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27th March 2023

Be prepared – the role of Companies House is changing

Be prepared – the role of Companies House is changing

The role and purpose of Companies House is due to significantly change under the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill, which is currently at the committee stage with the House of Lords. The aim of the Bill is to help tackle the abuse of UK company registrations and expose criminals using UK corporate structures for unlawful purposes. 

To help achieve this aim, Companies House is to be reformed and given new powers that will place it at the forefront of the fight against economic crime. The changing role of Companies House has been referred to as a change from that of a passive recipient of information to that of an active gatekeeper. 

Amongst the measures that will enable Companies House to carry out its new role, Companies House is intending to implement a new ID verification process for all new and existing company directors, PSCs and those who file on behalf of companies. Anyone seeking to register a company will now need to prove who they are, but it won’t stop there. Companies House is expecting to be given new powers to challenge information that is submitted to it and have greater powers to take action against companies and issue penalties if information is incorrect.

Companies House will also be given greater powers to cross-check and work with law enforcement partners to help prevent the misuse of UK companies for illicit purposes. 

New powers will also be given to help Companies House combat the theft of personal data and identity as well the illegal use of home addresses and hijacking of companies by criminals. 

There has also been discussion of extending the powers of Companies House even further so that it can automatically put companies into compulsory liquidation if they fail to file their accounts or confirmation statement on the correct date, which would be a very bold move.

These changes will lead to the information filed at Companies House being more reliable and accurate, which is a welcome consequence of the measures that are being put in place in the fight against economic crime.