The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has launched a consultation, as part of its Red Tape Challenge, on measures aimed at simplifying the requirements for company filings at Companies House and other company law changes. The consultation suggests a number of options aimed at removing duplication of effort for companies, and envisages moving towards a system where a company, or intermediary, can access the register for all its filing and search requirements through a single digital system.
Key features of the proposals are:
- In relation to the annual return, removing the requirement to file an annual return, or limiting it to a simple digital confirmation of no changes within the relevant period. If the annual return is retained, it should be aligned with the date for filing accounts.
- A recognition that many companies would like to file their company accounts and HMRC tax return on the same date, and the Government intends to improve systems and guidance to facilitate this.
- On the appointment of a new director, companies have to provide a date of birth for the individual and consent to act. The Government proposes that full details of the director’s date of birth should no longer be publicly available, to safeguard against fraud. In relation to consent to act, the Government proposes that the Registrar of Companies would have power to require director’s consent to act only in cases of dispute. If consent was not produced at that stage, the name would be removed from the register.
- The Government notes that striking off a company from the register currently takes approximately 6 months. It proposes to change the law to introduce an accelerated striking-off process designed for cases where, for example, an address is hijacked and where no contact can be made with a company or its directors. If introduced, such an accelerated striking off process would be expected to take approximately six weeks.
- Other miscellaneous changes are proposed to company law requirements for registered offices, keeping registers of statutory information, filing statements of capital, disclosing details of subsidiaries, and other matters.
Comments are invited on the proposals by 22 November 2013. A copy of the consultation paper can be accessed here.