The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency (ECCT) Act 2023 is now law and will have a significant impact on how companies – and their accountants – interact with Companies House. So, what are the key changes?

We have already seen the first phase of implementation in March 2024.

That included the requirement to report to Companies House an ‘appropriate email address’, one at which emails sent to it by the Registrar should come to the attention of a person acting on behalf of the company.

Similarly, using a PO Box address for a company to receive official mail is now no longer permitted.

New powers

These changes link with the new powers granted to the Registrar. The ECCT Act changes the role of Companies House from passive recipient of information to active gatekeeper.

It will now be able to query and cross-check company information, reject or remove suspicious or false details and impose financial penalties for breaches, with criminal actions reported to law enforcement agencies.

East Anglian Daily Times: John Korchak, managing director of Inform DirectJohn Korchak, managing director of Inform Direct (Image: Keith Mindham)
It is clear that Companies House intends actively to use these new powers, for example in tighter controls on allowable company names.

More broadly, the number of challenges to information sent to businesses and their advisers by post and email, related to both new and long-existing companies, has already increased significantly since March.

Other changes are being introduced, although it seems most likely these will come in 2025. Major innovations planned include:

Identity verification

The ECCT Act is building identity verification into key transactions with Companies House, which applies to a long list of roles including new and existing company directors, persons with significant control (PSCs) and anyone making filings on a company’s behalf, such as accountants and lawyers.

Statutory accounts changes

Smaller companies, including micro-entities, will have to file a profit and loss account, rather than abridged accounts. Companies will also soon need to file accounts via approved software, rather than directly on Companies House’s website.

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