Companies House reforms – navigating the latest changes

15 May 2024

The first wave of changes arising from the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act 2024 (ECCTA), are now in force.

In a previous feature, we explained how the role and powers of the Registrar have been expanded by ECCTA in support of their four new objectives. On 4 March 2024, several key measures became effective, including: 

1. Registered office address

Under the new rules, an ‘appropriate’ registered office address must be used, which is where any documents delivered to it can be signed for and can be expected to come to the attention of a representative of the company concerned. 

It’s worth also noting that a PO Box will no longer suffice as a registered office address and that the Registrar will have the power to strike off a company that it deems not to have an appropriate registered office address if it is not changed.

2. Registered email address

All companies must provide a registered email address upon incorporation or as part of the first confirmation statement submitted to the Registrar after 4 March 2024. This address must meet the same ‘appropriateness’ criteria as the registered office test (see above).

Importantly, Companies House will not disclose the registered email address on the public record.

3. Lawful purpose statement

Under ECCTA, subscribers of new companies must make a statement that they wish to form the company for a lawful purpose. The confirmation statement of all companies must now include a statement that the intended future activities are lawful.

Forms will not be accepted if this statement is not provided.

4. Enhancing the Registrar's powers

A range of measures that expand the role and powers of the Registrar have also been introduced, including:

  • questioning information submitted by companies and, where appropriate requesting supporting evidence;
  • applying more stringent checks on proposed company names to prevent names very similar to those of reputable companies from being used fraudulently;
  • annotating the public record at Companies House where information is misleading or inconsistent;
  • cleansing the public record, using data matching technology to identify and remove inaccurate information. Several inaccurate forms have already been removed from historic company records; and
  • sharing data more extensively with other government departments and law enforcement bodies.

Increase in Companies House filing fees

From 1 May 2024, filing fees will increase to cover the cost of their new powers and wider reforms. For example, the digital filing of an annual confirmation statement will more than double to £34. 

Are there other changes?

In addition to the Company Secretarial changes outlined above, the economic crime element of ECCTA also introduces a range of other measures such as the failure to prevent fraud offence that our fraud risk specialists explained in December 2023. 

Contact us

If you would like further information about how the Companies House reforms might impact your business, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Trish Sankey or your usual RSM contact.

Trish Sankey
Trish Sankey
Associate Director - Company Secretarial
Trish Sankey
Trish Sankey
Associate Director - Company Secretarial