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Companies House – The New Barrier Against Criminal Activity

Posted on October 26th 2023

 

The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency (ECCT) Bill 2022 is new legislation being brought in with the aim of preventing the abuse of corporate structures and tackling economic crime in the UK.

Significant reforms to the role of the Registrar of Companies, who registers company information, are going to be introduced, alongside enhanced identity verification requirements for company directors and persons with significant control. All companies whether they are trading, dissolved, or dormant should be aware of these reforms as it is vital, that they know what the new rules require of them and their offices.

 

Changes to the Role of the Registrar at Companies House

Through the introduction of the new Bill, the role of the Registrar at Companies House will encompass a set of new powers to enhance the accuracy and integrity of the information contained on the Companies’ Register. This will strengthen the Registrar’s ability to maintain data reliability and regulate company formations, meaning that filings are likely to be scrutinised to a greater extent and may face rejection if the information is not consistent. Collectively, the changes aim to empower the Registrar to play a more proactive role in maintaining the detail and reliability of the Companies’ Register, promoting transparency, safeguarding against fraudulent activities, and ensuring compliance with legal requirements.

Key Powers granted to the Registrar

Description of the Power

Impact of the Change

Power to Remove Material from the Register The Registrar has the authority to remove material from the register if it has been accepted but later found to be incorrect or inconsistent.
Power to Reject Documents for Inconsistencies New filings that are inconsistent with information already on the register or available to the Registrar can be rejected or queried.
Power to Impose Financial Penalties Financial penalties can be imposed by the Registrar directly as an alternative to pursuing criminal prosecution through the courts.
Power to Change a Company’s Name, Registered Office Address, and Director’s Service Address The Registrar is given the authority to make changes to a company’s name, registered office address, and director’s service address under certain circumstances, ensuring compliance with the law.
Power to Strike off a Company Registered on a False Basis The Registrar can strike a company’s name off the register if there is reasonable cause to believe that the information provided in its application for registration or restoration is false.
Power to Require Additional Information The Registrar can require individuals or entities to provide additional information relating to a filing to determine whether it has been properly delivered or should be registered.
Power to Require Businesses to Report Discrepancies Regulations may be established that compel businesses to obtain information about customers or prospective customers, identify discrepancies between that information and what’s on the register and report any discrepancies to the Registrar.
Power to Require Inconsistencies to Be Resolved If the Registrar identifies inconsistencies in the information delivered to it compared to what is on the register, it can issue a notice requiring those inconsistencies to be resolved.
Power to Disclose Information The Registrar is granted the authority to disclose information to individuals or public authorities related to their functions.
Power to Analyse Information for Crime Prevention or Detection The Registrar can analyse information for the purpose of preventing or detecting crimes. This analysis may include information on the register and data from external sources.
Power to Require Electronic Delivery The Registrar can mandate that documents are delivered electronically, which can enhance efficiency and data accuracy.

 Implementation of the new Bill

Companies House is expecting the Bill to be fully implemented in phases according to the date of Royal Assent and the approval of secondary legislation by Parliament. The initial date proposed for commencement has now passed, given that it was intended to be the spring of 2023, so keep an eye out for our updates regarding the latest developments. As soon as the Bill is enacted the Registrar’s objectives and powers will be active, so it is more important than ever to file and keep accurate records.

If you are in any doubt as to how these rules will affect you, then please get in touch with a member of our corporate and commercial team on 01244 312306 or at law@oliverandco.co.uk.

Call and speak to a member of our team on 01244 312306