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Turning policy into legislation: the passage of the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill

You’ll have seen recently that the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency (ECCT) Bill was introduced to Parliament in September. This is a significant step forward in allowing us to make fundamental reforms to the legal framework within which Companies House operates, but the ECCT Bill is just at the start of its journey. 

To become an Act, the Bill must be passed by the Commons and the Lords (in either order) and receive Royal Assent. It can be passed with or without amendment, but the Commons and Lords must both agree the text. The Bill can also only be changed by formal amendment.    

The Bill is likely to achieve Royal Assent in the spring of 2023, but the passage through Parliament is a winding path of debate and examination where proposals for amendments can be made at several stages.     

How the Bill will become law

Bills may start in either the House of Lords or the House of Commons, but most start in the House of Commons. 

  1. First reading – the title of the Bill is read in the House with no debate.
  2. Second reading – a general debate on the Bill in the House, opened and closed by the Minister, with questions at the end. 
  3. Committee stage – a detailed examination of the Bill by Committee. Amendments can be made by vote. This stage can last weeks. 
  4. Report stage – a debate in the House of the Bill plus amendments. 
  5. Third reading – a final debate on the Bill in the House, immediately after the report stage. 
  6. The Bill goes to either the House of Lords or the House of Commons and the process is repeated. 
  7. Consideration of amendments – the second House’s amendments are considered, and the Bill may go back and forth until both Houses agree on the Bill. 
  8. Royal assent – the Bill must have Royal Assent before it can become an Act of Parliament (law). The Act usually comes into force from midnight at the start of the day of Royal Assent. 

The Bill is currently at the second reading stage in the House of Commons (as of 13 October 2022) so there are a few more stages to go before the final wording is agreed, and the Bill becomes an Act. In the meantime, we are working hard behind the scenes to prepare for the changes that the Bill will introduce.  

How the Bill will affect Companies House

The Bill will reform the role of Companies House and improve the transparency of UK companies and other legal entities. The changes include:   

  • introducing identity verification for people who register companies or file with Companies House; this will improve the accuracy of our data and support business decisions and law enforcement investigations  
  • broadening our powers so that we become a more active gatekeeper over company creation and a source of more reliable data; Companies House will be given new powers to check, remove or decline information 
  • improving the financial information on the register so that it’s more reliable, complete and accurate, reflects the latest advancements in technology, and enables better business decisions 
  • strengthening enforcement powers and better cross-checking of data with other public and private sector bodies; we’ll be able to proactively share information with law enforcement bodies where they have evidence of unusual filings or suspicious behaviour, enhancing the protection of personal information provided to Companies House to protect individuals from fraud and other harm 

Our Companies House Chief Executive Louise Smyth recently said: 

We welcome the measures outlined in this Bill, which represent the most significant and far-reaching changes to the UK’s company register in over 170 years of history and will enable us to play a much stronger role in making the UK a great place to do business. 

If agreed, these changes will allow us to actively improve and maintain the integrity of the register like never before, inspire greater trust in our data, crack down on economic crime, and further drive confidence in the UK economy. 

While the scale and scope of these changes should not be underestimated, the work already done through our wide-ranging and ongoing transformation programme puts us in a strong position to implement them as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Change will not happen overnight, but we hope to deliver some of the measures as early as possible following Royal Assent with others being implemented over time.

You can find updates on the Bill’s passage through Parliament on the UK Parliament website and keep up to date with the implementation by signing up to receive email updates.     

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  1. Comment by William Hughes posted on

    well done about time we need to trust the company's we deal with

  2. Comment by Susie posted on

    This Bill is long overdue, so I hope it is implemented at the earliest opportunity.
    There is not enough information given about companies & this should be improved even before this Bill comes in.
    Often, we (the public), need answers about specific companies & unless you are willing to employ a P.I., there is no-one to provide the information.
    Too many companies flout the rules & get away with it.
    There are also too many companies starting up, that do a share offering but give no provable data about the running of their business & there seems no way to find, not from Companies House or those companies websites.
    We (the public), need more transparency!

  3. Comment by david griffiths posted on

    I'm a little confused - but presumably the need to file by 31 January 2023 is still required, we don't wait until Royal Assent?

    • Replies to david griffiths>

      Comment by asoullier posted on

      Hi David, are you referring to the Register of Overseas Entities? The Register of Overseas Entities came into force in the UK on 1 August 2022 through the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act 2022. Overseas entities in scope will need to register with Companies House and tell us who their registrable beneficial owners or managing officers are by 31 January 2023. Find out more about the Register of Overseas Entities:

  4. Comment by Malcolm Hope posted on

    Is this act retrospective

  5. Comment by JL Kerr posted on

    A company based in China has set up a business in this country on 09/11/2022 using my home address. I only found this out after Companies House sent correspondence re this companies authentication code to my home. I redirected two previous letters but became suspicious after receiving the latest letter from Company House on 12/11/2022. Please would someone advise me on what I should do as this is a fraudulent use of my home address.