Dates changed by department for Business Innovation & Skills (BIS) in late August 2015
Last year I wrote a Mercia Blog post on what was then called the 'Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill' - the statistics show that this was one of the least read posts ever written but, given the excitement of that title, this would surprise no-one!
The Bill received Royal Assent on 26 March 2015 and soon its effects will be felt. No attempt is being made in this blog to show any particular detail but we are merely outlining a small number of the most important issues.A (public) register of People with Significant Control (PSC) must be produced by companies by April 2016 and the information will need to be at Companies House by June 2016. Roughly the definition of PSC is the same as that of Beneficial Owners for Money Laundering purposes (eg a holding of more than 25%) so a requirement to have such a register should be helpful to accountancy firms in their need to comply with the ML Regulations (ie the need to know the identity of all Beneficial Owners). The full definition of PSC is wide and currently unclear. Guidance on interpreting what is meant by eg 'significant influence or control' is expected to be published by Government. In most cases the requirement for an SME to compile this register will be very straightforward, but on occasion it may present challenges where there are apparently 'unknown' owners! Such owners apparently located in for example British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, etc immediately come to mind!From June 2016 private companies will have an option of keeping certain information in a 'central register' on the record at Companies House rather than keeping their own statutory registers. This would include registers of members, directors, secretaries, director's residential addresses and the PSC register described above.Also from June 2016 the obligation to file an annual return will be replaced by what is currently called 'check and confirm' whereby companies will have to confirm that the information held is up to date and notify Companies House of changes, if necessary, at least every 12 months. This will not, of course, do away with the duty to notify the Registrar of Companies of changes in the information as they happen.From October 2015 there will be partial suppression of dates of birth in public registers (month and year of birth will remain but not the actual day within the month).Finally, and not connected to this new legislation, Companies House have confirmed that access to the data held there will be fully accessible free of charge by the end of June 2015. It had been thought that this would have happened by the beginning of April but as many of us have found out, it didn't happen!