The changes announced on 16 April will help businesses avoid being struck off the Companies House register.

Companies House will temporarily pause the strike off process to prevent companies being dissolved during the coronavirus pandemic. The businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak will now be able to update their records in order to avoid being struck off the register.

The announcement builds on measures already implemented by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which give businesses the ability to apply for a 3-month extension to file accounts with Companies House.

While companies will still have to apply for the 3-month extension to be granted, those citing issues around COVID-19 will be automatically and immediately granted an extension.

The companies that have already been issued with a late filing penalty due to COVID-19 will have appeals treated sympathetically.

The Secretary of State has stated that further extensions may be provided if needed.

New legislation will ensure those companies required by law to hold Annual General Meetings (AGMs) will be able to do so safely, consistent with the restrictions on movement and gatherings introduced to address the spread of coronavirus. Companies will temporarily be extended greater flexibilities, including holding AGMs online or postponing the meetings.

There are currently about 4.3 million companies on the Companies House register, and all companies must submit their accounts and a confirmation statement each year. Companies that file accounts late are issued with an automatic penalty. Companies House also has powers to strike off a company from the register if these documents are not ultimately filed.

For companies that make an application for voluntary dissolution, the DS01 (striking off application by a company) will be registered at Companies House and a notice published in the Gazette. However, after this point, any further action to strike off the company will be suspended.

The announced changes however do not apply to businesses which are being dissolved as the result of an insolvency procedure such as administration or liquidation. Businesses in this position will continue to be dissolved by operation of the Insolvency Act.

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Karen Wilkinson works at London School of Finance and Law and writes articles on UK tax law for My Taxes Plus and other financial magazines.


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