Changes to Companies House striking off policies and late filing penalties

On 4 June 2020 Companies House updated its guidance for companies and announced temporary changes to its striking off policies and approach to late filing penalties in a further attempt to support companies struggling to meet filing requirements as a result of Covid-19.

The Changes

Companies House will continue to write to companies who are late in filing their annual accounts or confirmation statement reminding companies that such filings are due but Companies House has confirmed that, for a temporary period, it will:

  • ease strike off activity;
  • treat late filing penalty appeals sympathetically if the late delivery of accounts was caused by the coronavirus outbreak;
  • provide a break for companies to pay late filing penalties; and
  • provide additional support with payment plans for late filing penalties.

Applications for voluntary strike off

Subject to the below, Companies House will continue to register any voluntary applications to strike off a company and will publish a notice in the Gazette but it will suspend any further action to strike off and dissolve the company so as to protect creditors and other interested parties who may wish to object to the striking off of the company meaning that it may now take longer than two months to strike off a company voluntarily.   

The exception to the above change is that where Companies House law enforcement partners have investigated a company and concluded that such company is no longer in operation then Companies House shall continue with the strike off application in its typical manner.

Strike off by the registrar

Typically, if a company does not respond to Companies House by the deadline set out in the second letter following a failure to file its accounts or confirmation statement by the relevant date set out in such letter then Companies House will automatically begin its process to strike off the company.  Companies House has confirmed that it will continue to write to companies who fail to file their accounts or confirmation statement on time but that it will take no further action to strike off such companies.  Companies House has not yet given any indication regarding how long it expects these relaxed measures will remain in place.

Late filing penalties

Companies House will continue to impose automatic penalties if a company fails to apply for an extension before the deadline for filing its accounts.  There is an ability to appeal any penalties but each appeal is treated on a case-by-case basis; Companies House has confirmed that it will consider appeals based upon coronavirus under it’s unforeseen poor health policies.

As at the date of this article, the level of a late filing penalty depends on how late the accounts reach Companies House, the levels of fines are set out below:

Length of period (measured from the date the accounts are due)

Private company penalty

Public company penalty

Note more than one month

£150

£750

More than one month but not more than three months

£375

£1,500

More than three months but not more than six months

£750

£3,000

More than six months

£1,500

£7,500

Failure to pay a late filing penalty can result in enforcement proceedings.

No late filing penalties are currently imposed on confirmation statements that have been filed late but, as set out above, the registrar may take steps to strike off the company.  Failure to file confirmation statements and accounts on time is also a criminal offence which can result in directors being fined personally in the criminal courts.

Contact us

We are happy to assist with any filing queries that you may have.  We also offer company secretarial and registered office services.  Please contact John Flanagan on 01482 337308 or Donna Ashbridge on 01482 337300 if you require any assistance.

Posted on: 09/06/2020

This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.

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