Changes to UK Company Law - The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act

The recent changes to UK company law, introduced under the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act, represent a significant shift in the regulatory landscape for companies operating within the United Kingdom. Here is a comprehensive overview of the key changes and implications:

Key Provisions

  1. Enhanced Role of Companies House: The act empowers Companies House to play a more active role in preventing economic crime and abuse of the registration system, and in supporting economic growth​​​​.
  2. Identity Verification: This involves mandatory identity checks for all new and existing registered company directors, people with significant control, and those filing on behalf of companies​​.
  3. Improved Data Quality: The act aims to enhance the accuracy and reliability of financial information on the register, reflecting advancements in digital technology and enabling better business decisions​​.
  4. Increased Investigation and Enforcement Powers: Companies House will have stronger powers to investigate and enforce regulations, including the ability to share information more effectively with partners​​.
  5. Protection of Personal Information: Enhanced measures to safeguard personal data from fraud and other harms​​.

New Objectives for the Registrar of Companies

  1. Ensuring compliance with document delivery requirements.
  2. Maintaining the accuracy and completeness of the register.
  3. Preventing the creation of a false or misleading public impression by the records.
  4. Preventing unlawful activities by companies and individuals​​.

Implementation Timeline and Immediate Measures

  • Gradual Introduction: Some measures, like identity verification, will be introduced progressively, requiring system development and secondary legislation​​.
  • Early Measures: These include greater powers to query information, stricter checks on company names, new rules for registered office addresses, and requirements for a registered email address and annual confirmation of lawful company activities​​.
  • Expected Implementation: The early measures are anticipated to be in effect from early 2024​​.

Financial Implications

Fee Increase: Companies House will increase some of its fees from early 2024. These fees are set on a cost recovery basis, ensuring they cover the cost of the services delivered. Despite the increase, the fees will remain comparatively low globally​​.

These changes represent a significant step towards improved transparency, accuracy, and reliability in the UK corporate environment. They aim to deter economic crime, enhance the quality of data available to the public, and strengthen the role of Companies House in regulating corporate activities. Businesses and directors should prepare for these changes, understanding the new requirements and their implications for corporate governance and compliance.