Companies House and COVID-19

Posted Friday 1st May 2020

Among the mundane things that have been affected by the current COVID-19 situation is the on-going Companies House filing obligations that companies are subject to.

As well as the difficulties that companies might have to comply with some of these, Companies House itself is having to take steps to protects its employees, not least by closing its main Contact Centre.  As such, Companies House has published several updates detailing how it will be modifying the usual rules around some key filings.

Accounts – filing extension

If you are not going to be able to file your company’s annual accounts on time – and Companies House urges those who can to take advance of online filing – but you have not yet missed the deadline, you can apply online for an automatic and immediate 3-month extension.

This will only be available if your accounts will be late because your company is affected by coronavirus.  If your company has already extended its filing deadline, or shortened its accounting reference period, it may not be eligible for an extension.

The application will need to be made online before your filing deadline.  Companies House has made clear that you might still receive a letter chasing for outstanding accounts, but you can safely ignore this letter if you have evidence that you’ve applied for an extension before your filing deadline.

You can make your application here:

Accounts – late filing penalties

If your company is issued with a late filing penalty because of a delay caused by COVID-19, Companies House have stated that appeals will be treated sympathetically, providing a break for companies to pay late filing penalties as well as payment plans for late filing penalties.

Note that Companies House has very little discretion when it comes to actually collecting penalties – if you need to submit an appeal as a result of the COVID-19 situation, be sure to do so without delay.

Changes to strike off policy

Voluntarily strike-off

In a temporary change of policy, if you submit an application to voluntarily strike-off your Company, although Companies House will continue to register the application, and publish a notice in the Gazette, any further action to strike off the company will be suspended, in order to protect creditors and other interested parties.

Compulsory strike-off

The usual process of sending two reminder letters to companies which have missed their accounts, or confirmation statement, deadlines will continue.  However, Companies House will no-longer publish a notice in the Gazette informing the public that it intends to strike-off the company.  This is intended to allow more time for companies to get their filings up-to-date.

For further information on this development please contact Matthew Overton or any other member of our Corporate & Commercial team.

This article is for reference purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking or deciding not to take any action.

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