As we all adapt to the situation caused by Coronavirus, Companies House is no exception in having to look to review standard procedures. With the vast majority of businesses working from home or with reduced staff there is an increased risk that Companies House filings are delayed or missed.
Companies House have made some changes to their filing procedures designed to assist companies through this period. Firstly, they have temporarily hit the pause button on the automated strike-off process which is enacted when a company fails to make certain filings on time.
In normal circumstances a company which fails to file its annual accounts or confirmation statement at the appropriate time will receive two reminder letters from Companies House, following which, if the filings are not made an automated strike-off procedure is commenced. For this reason it is important that a company stays on top of its filings to avoid being inadvertently removed from the register. While companies should still take care to stay on top of their filings this suspension of the automated strike-off process will provide some breathing space in terms of accidental failures to file, especially when reminder letters may be sent to business premises which are not currently occupied.
This suspension will also apply to any company which voluntarily seeks to be struck off the register. A company which applies to be struck off generally enters into a process of advertisement of the strike off allowing a chance for anyone (though in practice it is usually creditors) to object. The two month period for objections starts upon first advertisement of the strike off application, though at present once this expires the strike off will not proceed until such time as the suspension of the automated strike-off process is lifted.
Companies House have also advised they will be treating sympathetically any appeal made against late filing penalties imposed on a company when the reason for delay is related to the current pandemic.
These measures are welcomed as a way of Companies House offering flexibility to companies who are not able to operate as normal. With the vast majority of Companies House filings able to be made online, it is of course still possible for most Companies House compliance to be attended to remotely. Companies should, therefore, make every effort to lodge filings timeously and ensure that no outstanding issues are stored up for when lockdown is lifted and normal service is resumed.
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