Earlier this year, Companies House brought its first conviction against an individual for making false filings on the public register.
In 2013, Kevin Brewer informed Companies House that the Business Secretary, Vince Cable MP, was the shareholder and director of John Vincent Cable Services Ltd (a company he had incorporated) without Mr Cable’s knowledge. In 2016, again without their knowledge, he registered James Cleverly MP and Baroness Neville-Rolfe (the Minister with responsibility for Companies House) as directors and shareholders of Cleverly Clogs Ltd. Brewer’s reasoning for this was to highlight what he perceived to be flaws in the Companies House incorporation procedure.
Brewer pleaded guilty to filing false information at Companies House in March 2018 and was ordered to pay £1,602 in fines and over £10,400 in legal costs. Companies House filings act as a vital tool of legal and financial information and provide a public forum for anyone to scrutinise a business. However, the information on the public register is only as good as what Companies House receives, which can lead to erroneous filings. Grant Usher explains the benefits of ensuring your business gets its filings right and the consequences of getting them wrong.
Correct filings demonstrate good corporate governance on behalf of the company and shows that the business is on top of its affairs more generally. In the event of a company sale, the publically accessible information on Companies House will form an important part of the due diligence process. Typically, a buyer will ask the seller to warrant the accuracy of the information submitted to Companies House.
There are additional benefits when companies sign up for the Companies House Web Filing system. Web Filing offers a faster, more efficient and in some cases, cheaper way of submitting Companies House filings online. Submissions can be made in a few clicks which reduces the risk of late filings which could then lead to Companies House sanctions.
Companies House deals with around 50 to 100 cases of corporate identity theft every month. To minimise this risk, there is also an option to sign up to PROOF, a free service which means filings can only be made electronically via Web Filing.
You may be able to submit a form RP04 in order to correct factual errors but the original filing will still remain on the public register. Note that form RP04 cannot be used for all incorrect filings.
You could apply to court for an order for the incorrect filing to be removed from the public register. The court will consider if the filing is factually inaccurate, was made without the authority of the company, or has been forged. Whilst errors can sometimes be innocent mistakes, occasionally those filings can result in penalties being issued by Companies House and, in extreme cases, criminal prosecution. The Companies Act 2006 makes it a criminal offence for a person to ‘knowingly or recklessly deliver’ a document that is ‘misleading, false or deceptive’. The maximum sentence is up to two years in prison, a fine, or both.
The Corporate & Commercial team at Verisona Law can assist with your company secretarial requirements by:
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