Changes at Companies House The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act

Amber Monaghan

Amber Monaghan

Solicitor

The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act 2023 (the “Act”) aims to deliver a range of reforms to tackle economic crime and improve transparency over corporate entities. The Act received Royal Assent in October 2023 and will be coming into force in stages.

Key changes

The reforms will result in a number of changes to the role of Companies House, including:
  • Identity verification for all new and existing registered company directors, people with significant control (PSCs), and those filing documents at Companies House.
  • Broadening the registrar’s powers to become a more active gatekeeper over company creation and a custodian of more reliable data.
  • Improving the financial information on the register so that the register is more reliable and accurate, reflects the latest advancements in digital technology and enables better business decisions.
  • Provision of greater investigation and enforcement powers for Companies House and increasing their ability to share relevant information with partners.
  • Enhancing the protection of personal information provided to Companies House to protect individuals from fraud and other harms.

First changes coming into effect

Companies House has stated that the first changes under the Act will be introduced from March 2024. These include:
  • Greater powers to query information. Companies House will be able to question and reject information that seems incorrect or inconsistent with information already on the register.
  • Stronger checks on company names. Companies House will have the power to reject an application for an incorporation or a change of name where the name could give a false or misleading impression to the public.
  • New rules for registered office addresses. This will mean all companies must have an appropriate address at all times and will not be able to use a PO Box as their registered office address.
  • A requirement for all companies to supply a registered email address. The registered email address will be requested within the incorporation process, and for existing companies, on filing their next confirmation statement.
  • A requirement for all companies to confirm they are forming the company for a lawful purpose when they incorporate. Every year, the company will need to confirm that its future activities will be lawful on their confirmation statement.
  • Annotations on the register to let users know about potential issues with the information that has been supplied to Companies House.
  • Taking steps to clean up the register, using data matching to identify and remove inaccurate information.
  • Sharing data with other government departments and law enforcement agencies.

Further changes to be introduced

Other measures under the Act, such as identity verification, changes to accounts filing and protecting personal information will be introduced later, as many of these changes need system development and secondary legislation before they are introduced.
 
Identity verification will apply to all directors, PSCs, members of limited liability partnerships (LLPs) and anyone acting on behalf of a company. It is expected that Companies House will put in place a digital service to verify a person’s identity using ID documents, such as a passport. For existing companies, there will be a transition period for all directors and PSCs to verify their identity at Companies House.
 
Changes to accounts filing will involve transitioning towards filing accounts by software only, streamlining the accounts filing options for small and micro-entity companies and removing the option to file abridged accounts.
 
Protecting personal information will allow individuals to apply to have their residential address, day of birth, signatures and business occupation suppressed from historical documents filed at Companies House. These measures will come into force over the next two years in a phased approach.
 
Companies House fees will also be increasing in 2024 to fund the cost of the new powers and the wider package of reforms in the Act.
 
If you have any queries about anything mentioned in this article, please contact Amber Monaghan or get in touch with one of our corporate team today.


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