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How we’re reforming the powers of the registrar

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Companies House transformation

I joined Companies House at the start of 2020, when it had already begun its transformation journey.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) published a wide-ranging consultation on corporate transparency and register reform in 2019. It included proposals which represent the most important changes to company law since the register was first created in 1844.

Whilst Companies House is committed to improving the integrity of the register, the registrar is currently required to accept documents in good faith and place them on the register. This means that the registrar does not have the power to query a document - and that inevitably attracts criticism of Companies House.

In the 2019 consultation, we therefore asked a specific question about whether the registrar should have the power to query information and ask for evidence to support this, where appropriate. We received strong support for this proposal and, as outlined in the government response, the need for this power is clear. It will ensure that Companies House is fit for the future and continues to make a valuable contribution to the UK’s business environment and the fight against economic crime.

It’s been exciting to work on the policy of reforming the future powers of the registrar alongside our colleagues at BEIS. We’ve been drilling down into the detail of how this new querying power might work, and BEIS has published a further consultation to test our proposals.

Future powers of the registrar consultation

Through this consultation, you have the opportunity to give your views on how we’re reforming the role of the registrar. We welcome your views on the 3 main areas:

Introducing a new power to query information

Chapter 1 focuses on the new power to query information and outlines the scope of the power and its application using a risk-based approach. It also sets out how the new power will apply to company names.

Reform of the registrar’s existing powers

Chapter 2 sets out proposals for reviewing and reforming some of the registrar’s existing powers.

Some of these proposals, such as closing current loopholes to prevent fraudulent re-appointment of company officers and extending administrative removal powers, are in response to concerns that current processes for amending and correcting information are complex and often require external input.

Rules governing company registers

Chapter 3 covers proposals for changes to the company registers regime. Elements of the company registers regime are likely to be impacted by wider register reform proposals.

In the government response, the government committed to changing the legislation to move the point of legal effect of a director’s appointment. This will impact the practicality of a company keeping its own statutory register of directors.

Respond to the future powers of the registrar consultation.

The consultation closes on 3 February 2021, and we look forward to hearing your views.

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  1. Comment by John Harvey posted on

    Many years ago, I attended the Charities Commissions' Annual Public Meeting where it was asked whether anyone actually read filed documents. The response was inconclusive.

    I believe that there is a need for consistent understanding across the whole regulation sector as to whether bodies within it are proactive investigators or or archivists holding information for investigation by others and to what extent. Your work might have wide implications

    Technology is an essential part of this and a comprehensive taxonomy of regulation-necessary information is needed for all regulated
    entitles. With a coordinated portal

  2. Comment by Michael Miller posted on

    All I ever wanted as a sole trader was to protect my trade name.
    I didn't want to register as a company.
    I wish it could be more simple than having to register a tradename as a company rather than a sole trader.
    All these years and I have to complete my registration every year as a dormant company when in reality, I'm a sole trader.
    Why not have a provision to allow for this?

  3. Comment by Zaka Sheikh posted on

    I recently experienced that a company had given my house address as its Registered Office. When I informed the companies house, I was asked to prove that I had the property owner's permission to request the removal of my address.

    I suggest that the Registrar should require from the new companies formation similar document i.e the Permission of the Property owners

  4. Comment by Philip Rimmer posted on

    Why not re-introduce the Registrar of Business Names that would prevent any company trying to register a name that was too similar to an existing company name.

  5. Comment by stephen bailey posted on

    We know that AI allows the creation of video and audio that is fake - fakes which will become increasingly challenging to detect. The forgery (faking) of static data such as documents and supporting imagery - e.g. driving licences, passports - seems a lot easier to achieve. Services to achieve fakery "on demand" already exist on the Internet and will become more prevalent and cheaper as technology progresses. Faced with this explosion in AI technology It seems to be absolutely vital that any review of the processes of identity / validation regarding company registration and directors takes this into account. In so many cases in the past governments have found it difficult to keep "ahead of the curve" - for example the control of pornography, the corruption of children, the control of motor vehicle registration. Even during the "old technology" regime, the corruptions and misuses of "UK registered companies" has damaged our credibility at home and abroad. Artificial Intelligence threatens individual liberty and even democracy itself. This extraordinarily rapid pace of technological development makes it difficult for individuals to "keep up", let alone governments. However it seems to be absolutely vital that Companies House, indeed all branches of our government (a "joined up" government) - must be guided by and subject to regulations driven by a national defence strategy.