The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act 2023 will give Companies House the tools to play an expanded role in tackling economic crime. 

Reforms include:

  • Identity verification for company directors, people with significant control, and those who file on behalf of companies.
  • Companies House will become a more active gatekeeper over company creation and will have better investigation and enforcement powers.
  • Introduction of measures to improve the reliability and accuracy of information on the register.

The reforms introduced by the Act will be implemented in stages. Certain changes – those set out below - are expected to take effect on 4 March 2024 (subject to the necessary secondary legislation passing through parliament in time). Identity verification, the most significant company law reform being introduced by the Act, will not be included in this round of implementation as it will take some time to get the necessary technology and processes in place.

The anticipated 4 March 2024 changes include:

  • Registered office addresses - companies must have an “appropriate” registered office address - an address where it can be expected that the documents sent to it will come to the attention of a person acting on behalf of the company, and where delivery is capable of being acknowledged. Companies will not be able to use a PO Box as their registered office address. Companies House will have the power to change the registered office of a company where it is not satisfied that these requirements have been met. 
  • Email address - companies must have an “appropriate” registered email address. Companies House will use this to communicate with the company and it will not appear on the public record. An email address is appropriate if, in the ordinary course of events, emails sent to it by Companies House would be expected to come to the attention of a person acting on behalf of the company. Companies must provide this on incorporation or, for existing companies, in their first confirmation statement following implementation of the requirement. 
  • Lawful purpose - all companies must confirm on incorporation that they are forming the company for a lawful purpose. Companies must confirm annually via the confirmation statement that their future activities will be lawful. 
  • Company names – Companies House will carry out stronger checks on company names that may give a false or misleading impression to the public. Names that are intended to facilitate dishonesty or deception offences, are or will be used for criminal purposes, include computer code, or give a misleading indication of the company's activities will be prohibited. Companies House will have the power to direct a company to change its name if it fails to comply with the new regime, and to change the name itself if the company fails to comply.   
  • Powers to query and reject filings and remove material – Companies House will be able to scrutinise information filed with it, as well as request further information before or after accepting a filing. It will have the power to reject information that appears incorrect or inconsistent with information already on the register or otherwise available to it. It will also have wider powers to remove material already on the register.

Companies House has a dedicated webpage giving an overview of the upcoming changes, Changes to UK company law.

We will keep you posted on implementation of the Act over the coming months.