New support measures for businesses affected by COVID-19
Many businesses are currently experiencing problems keeping up with their legal and regulatory obligations, particularly around filing company records and accounts.
The legal requirements can be summarised as follows:
If you run a company, you must submit your accounts and a confirmation statement to Companies House each year.
If you file accounts late, you will be issued with an automatic penalty.
Companies House also has powers to strike off a company from the register if the failure to file documents is persistent.
Now, Companies House has announced new measures to support businesses that have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis. The measures are intended to help businesses avoid being struck off the Companies House register if the reasons for the strike-off are connected to, or caused by, the pandemic.
The strike-off process will be temporarily paused to avoid companies having to be dissolved.
In this way, a business that has been affected by the Coronavirus outbreak will be given the time they need to obtain the information necessary to update their records and therefore avoid being struck off the register. In addition, if the outbreak has resulted in a company filing their accounts late and being hit with a penalty, their appeal will be treated sympathetically.
Measures already implemented by the BEIS have given businesses the chance to apply for a 3-month extension to file their accounts with Companies House. If affected companies cite issues relating to the outbreak, they will automatically and immediately be granted an extension.
The BEIS will continue to monitor the situation and if further extensions are needed, they will be provided.
It was also announced that where the law requires companies to hold Annual General Meetings, they will be able to do so safely, consistent with the restrictions on movement and gatherings introduced to address the spread of coronavirus. They will be able to hold AGMs online via teleconferencing platforms or postpone them until it is safe to hold them.
The government will review this policy and amend it if future developments in the Coronavirus outbreak require.
If a company is in the process of being dissolved as the result of an insolvency procedure such as administration or liquidation, these changes will not be applicable. Businesses in this position will continue to be dissolved under the Insolvency Act.