Corporate Law Update: 23 December 2023 - 5 January 2024

05 January 2024

This week:

First Economic Crime Act changes to company law to start in March

Companies House has confirmed in a blog that the first changes to company law made by the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act 2023 will come into effect in March 2024.

The changes include the following.

  • Greater powers to query information. Companies House will gain the ability to challenge and reject information that seems incorrect or inconsistent with information already on the register and, where appropriate, remove it or annotate the register to flag any potential issues. This change has long been overdue. Currently, amending information on the public register is difficult and, in some cases, impossible.
  • New restrictions on company names. The 2023 Act introduces new restrictions on using company names that contain computer code, are intended to facilitate crime or suggest a connection with a foreign government.
  • Registered office address changes. All companies will need to maintain an “appropriate address” for their registered office. This means an address where delivery of documents to the company can be acknowledged. This is principally designed to prevent the use of PO Boxes.
  • Registered email addresses. All companies will need to supply a registered email address to which Companies House can send communications.
  • Lawful purpose. Persons who wish to incorporate a company will need to confirm they are forming the company for a lawful purpose. Each year, the company will need to confirm, in its confirmation statement, that its future activities will be lawful.

Companies House has stated it will publish a further blog in the next few weeks with more information about these early changes.

Read the Companies House blog on changes to company law to come into effect in March 2024

Government consults on expanding access to information on trusts

The UK Government is consulting on proposals to make information on trusts and their beneficial owners more publicly available.

The proposals sit within the context of providing greater transparency in relation to the true economic owners of land within the United Kingdom.

As well as exploring proposals to make information available on land-based trusts generally, the consultation proposes options for making existing trust information held within the UK’s Register of Overseas Entities more available to the general public.

The consultation will be of interest to institutional investors, family offices and other groups of companies that hold registered land in the UK through a non-UK entity and which have one or more trusts within that entity’s corporate ownership structure.

Read more about the Government’s consultation on transparency of land ownership involving trusts in our separate in-depth piece