Companies House have recently opened a consultation for transparency and register reform. The potential reforms would amount to the biggest changes to the UK system for setting up and operating companies since the UK company register was created in 1844, and include the following:
- There is a proposal to introduce identity verification (starting at incorporation) for directors, PSCs, and presenters (which includes anyone filing documents on behalf of a company). This could include providing passport/national insurance numbers etc. This information would not be available on the public register.
- More information will be required about shareholders at incorporation – part of the discussion surrounds how much of this should be on the public register, including the possibility of a voluntary ID system – whereby a flag system would be introduced to indicate whether a shareholder’s identity had been verified.
- There is a movement towards a more pro-active approach on the part of Companies House to check whether information is correct before it is filed. More statutory powers may be given to Companies House to carry out investigations into filings which may seem suspicious or constitute a large change for the company, such as a dramatic increase in share capital.
- Directors may be able to apply to have the day of their date of birth removed from historical filings at Companies House. Pre-2015 filings still show the directors’ full date of birth, as opposed to just the month and year.
- There may be the introduction of a requirement for companies to disclose the details of any bank account opened by the company within 14 days. This information would not be on the public register but would be available to law enforcement bodies if required.
- There may be the introduction of a requirement for proof of consent to use an address as a registered office address.
- Due to all of the above changes there will be an increase in certain filing fees, however it is intended that they will remain low to encourage transparency and use of the system.
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