We advise companies on complying with Companies House requirements for filing accounts and confirmation statements. Our advice covers “pre-prosecution” such as seeking to extend filing deadlines to avoid prosecutions and penalties. Also where company Directors have received summonses for late filing offences.
Extending filing deadlines
There are several mechanisms available to companies to change the filing deadline, which can result in a new and achievable deadline. We advise companies on how to do this.
What is a Companies House prosecution for late filing?
Thousands of Directors of companies each year receive summonses to attend the main Magistrates Court in Cardiff because they’ve been charged with an offense of failing to file or being late in filing certain company records at Companies House. This often comes as a shock and Directors need urgent advice which we can provide.
What documents must be filed?
– the company’s annual statement of accounts (including relevant supporting documents) which must be filed at Companies House by set deadline for each company
– A confirmation statement which may be annual or following changes in the company’s ownership structure.
What happens if these documents are not filed on time?
Each Director of a company who was a Director during any period when the outstanding accounts should have been prepared for filing can be prosecuted by Companies House for each failure. So potentially each Director could face several charges including in relation accounts for previous years which still remain outstanding.
What happens on conviction?
Each Director will be fined several hundred pounds for a first offence. However, the amount increases with any additional offences and in each case plus victim’s surcharge fee and the prosecutors costs. The fines are increased where several charges are tried at the same time and for previous failure to file where the accounts are still outstanding.
The convicted Directors receive a criminal conviction. This can have very serious consequences including preventing a Director from travelling abroad to countries such as the USA. There are also implications for job applications and appointments to other company boards, etc, where declarations must be made about the existence of criminal convictions. We have known of cases where former Directors had gone abroad to work but their new employers informed them that if convicted, they would be dismissed. The fines therefore may not be the most important element of a conviction. Good advice is therefore essential and obviously Companies House cannot offer independent legal advice.
Additionally, there is the risk that where three offences have been committed the Director can be the subject of automatic referral to the court to consider disqualifying the Director as a Director of a UK company for a period of years.
Given the very serious nature of such prosecutions it is essential that legal advice is taken as soon as a Director becomes aware that a prosecution is going to be started or that a summons has been issued. There are also cases where summonses have been issued without Directors being aware of them. This can be due to changes of address, and Directors have been convicted in their absence.
We have successfully assisted many Directors in dealing with summonses and even convictions in their absence. Frequently, we work with other law firms and with Accountants to assist their clients dealing with Companies House matters. We welcome enquiries from other Law firms and professionals.
When a company misses a filing deadline an automatic penalty is applied to the company on a sliding scale related to the amount of time by which the deadline has been missed. If a company misses a deadline for a second time, then all automatic penalties are doubled from that point onwards. We can advise companies on steps to take to try to avoid incurring penalties. If a penalty has been incurred, we can advise on how to appeal.
We are happy to work with Directors current lawyers and accountants. Having worked successfully on that basis for many clients.
If you, or one of your clients, are facing prosecution, then call us on 029 2022 1300 now or email us at DJM@djmurphy-solicitors.com to find out how we can help. We are happy to take initial telephone enquiries without charge.
All these prosecutions take place in one of the Cardiff Magistrates Courts, which is located close to our offices.
To find out more about the Court’s based in South Wales and to see the full list, please click here…