UK company law changes are here

April 2024

Companies House has now introduced the first set of measures under the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act. So what do they mean in practical terms?

The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act gives Companies House the power to play a much more significant role in disrupting economic crime and supporting economic growth.

So what will change? Well, the first set of changes introduced by the act means:

  • Greater powers to query information and request supporting evidence.
  • Stronger checks on company names.
  • New rules for registered office addresses.
  • A requirement for all companies to supply a registered email address.
  • A requirement for all companies to confirm they are forming the company for a lawful purpose when they incorporate, and to confirm its intended future activities will be lawful on their confirmation statement.
  • The ability to annotate the register when information appears confusing or misleading.
  • Taking steps to clean up the register, using data matching to identify and remove inaccurate information.
  • Sharing data with other government departments and law enforcement agencies.

Let’s look at three of the immediate big changes.

New rules for registered office addresses

From March 2024, there are new rules for registered office addresses, which mean companies must have an ‘appropriate address’ as their registered office at all times. An appropriate address is one where:

  • Any documents sent to the registered office should be expected to come to the attention of a person acting on behalf of the company.
  • Any documents sent to that address can be recorded by an acknowledgement of delivery.

These changes mean companies will not be able to use a PO Box as their registered office address. However, they can still use a third-party agent’s address if they meet the conditions for an appropriate address.

That means anyone currently using a PO Box as their registered office address will need to change it.

Companies that do not have an appropriate registered office address could be struck off the register. When Companies House identify an inappropriate registered office address, it will change it to a default address held at Companies House. The company must then provide an appropriate address, with evidence of a link to that address, within 28 days. If it does not receive this evidence, then it will start the process to strike the company off the register.

Registered email address

There is a new requirement for all companies to give a registered email address to Companies House. This email address will not be published on the public register.

New companies will need to give a registered email address when they incorporate. Existing companies will need to give a registered email address when they file their next confirmation statement with a statement date.

Companies House says it will use this email address to communicate with company owners about their company, so it’s important that an appropriate email address is provided. You can register the same email address for more than one company.

Owners will be able to change their registered email address through the new ‘update a registered email address’ service. Companies will then have a duty to maintain an appropriate registered email address, in the same way as their registered office address. Any company that does not do this will be committing an offence.

Statement of lawful purpose

When someone incorporates a company, the subscribers (shareholders) will need to confirm they are forming the company for a lawful purpose.

hey will also need to confirm the company’s intended future activities are lawful on the confirmation statement.

The intention of these new statements is to make it clear that all companies on the register, new and existing, have a duty to operate in a lawful way. Companies House said it may take action against a company if it receives information that confirms it is not operating lawfully.

Companies House said it will not accept documents if these statements have not been confirmed.

Moving forward everyone will see these new statements when they incorporate a company or file a confirmation statement.

Other measures under the act, such as identity verification and streamlining the accounts filing options for small and micro entity companies, will be introduced later.