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Article:

Companies House – new confirmation statement

12 September 2016

The new confirmation statement, which replaces the annual return filing at Companies House, has been in operation since 1 July 2016: our busy company secretarial department comments on using the new system.

The number one issue, which was apparent to many practitioners well before the system was introduced, was that there would need to be an equivalent document to the annual return which could be downloaded and reviewed by banks, credit reference agencies, auditors and company secretarial departments. Unfortunately, to date there is no such document produced by Companies House and this is already causing confusion. Company secretarial software providers have also been slow on the uptake here, as some major providers still have no facility to create a single comprehensive document that includes all of the information on an annual return and the information on the PSC (People with Significant Control) register.

The confirmation statement itself, rather than detailing all of the information on a company, simply lists the share capital and any PSC registrable person. To find information on the shareholders you will need to have access to a company’s web filing account to order a PDF of the current company information by email. Even then, as shareholder addresses have been hidden from the public record since 1 October 2009, it is still impossible to tell where in the world a shareholder is based from looking at this information. Bizarrely, the same shareholder will have their address disclosed on the confirmation statement if they are recorded as a PSC.

The confirmation statement was intended to simplify filings for small companies, saving them time. In our opinion, the time potentially saved is insignificant and the problems now being faced by anyone trying to confirm information on a company far outweigh the few minutes a year saved by each small incorporated business. It does not seem to have occurred to those drafting the legislation, nor to Companies House, that businesses of a reasonable size generally wish to check their company details filed on the public record every year and also wish to have a document covering all of the relevant information that they can save in their own records. 

Add to this the complexity of the rules on PSC registers, particularly where LLPs or trusts are involved, and it seems that the new filing regime is going to need a number of upgrades, improvements and possible further legislation before it provides the meaningful and transparent information it was intended to. 

For further information on this issue please contact Mark Sykes.

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