Company information to be made available for free by Companies House from 2015
Companies House has recently announced that it will be making information for all companies freely available to the public from 2015.
One of the main functions of Companies House is to examine and store company information delivered under the Companies Act and related legislation. When a document is filed with Companies House the data that is collected is stored and subsequently made available to the public. Currently there is a charge for individuals to access a large amount of the information that Companies House holds. For example, currently an individual must pay £1 in order to access a company’s last set of accounts or annual return. During 2013-14, £8.7 million was spent by customers searching the Companies House website to access this type of information.
Companies House has recently announced that it will make all of its digital data available free of charge from the second quarter of 2015. This is intended to boost the UK economy and the government views this as a step forward in improving corporate transparency, because once it comes into effect it will make the UK the first country to establish a truly open register of business information. The government hopes that this change will also allow entrepreneurs to come up with innovative ways of using company data. The information that will be made available includes basic information about the company, including the company’s accounts, appointments, charges and documents relating to other events in a company’s life.
Making all of this information available for free, could potentially lead to a number of benefits. However, now more than ever it will be increasingly important to incorporate companies correctly from the outset to protect the privacy of the directors, particularly regarding their residential address. Given that all of the company’s information is going to be easily and publically available, it will also become even more important to ensure that statutory filings are both up to date and accurate.
Nick Tagg, a director of Wisteria Chartered Accountants, Tax and Business Advisers, said of the announcement, “the new Companies House policy increases the importance of keeping the residential addresses of UK company directors private. From 2015 it will be possible for anyone from all over the world to access more sensitive information about a company free of charge. For example, if a director’s service address is their residential address it will be even easier for third parties to find this out without having to incur a cost to do so. All company directors are advised to make sure they take this into account when they update their statutory filings”.
Wisteria Formations, part of Wisteria Ltd, is a well-known formation agent that helps both UK and non-UK residents to set up a limited company in the UK. Wisteria Formations provides its clients with guidance and advice to ensure that companies are set up correctly and offers a quick and simple online process to form your company. Wisteria Ltd also provides services and support for keeping statutory filling up to date, including the preparation and filing of annual returns and accounts.
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