October 30th, 2012 / Insight posted in

Watch deadlines on late accounts

BW writes: I was given 28 days’ notice by Companies House to file accounts to keep my company alive. I have been holding off paying for accounts pending new funds from investors, without which I will be unable to keep it going. In the hope that funds come in, what are my best options for dealing with Companies House?

If nothing is done, Companies House can commence strike-off proceedings at any time after that 28-day period, writes Jon Sutcliffe, partner at Kingston Smith LLP. A notice of the intention to strike off the company will be published in the London Gazette.

Three months after publication of this notice, the company may be struck off at any time — usually within a week.

If you are confident of filing the accounts within three months, you may continue to do nothing until you do so. However, given the London Gazette’s publishing deadlines, it may be too late to stop the striking off anything up to 10 days before the expiry of the three-month period.

The notice of intention states “unless cause is shown to the contrary”. The best course of action is to show cause to the contrary by writing to Companies House, by letter or email. A telephone call is not sufficient.

You should confirm that the company is still required, and include any valid reason for the late accounts. Ideally, you should also state a proposed date by which the accounts will be filed. Companies House will then confirm that the strike-off action has been suspended, and for how long.

Late filing penalties will continue to accumulate and to increase at the prescribed intervals.

If the new filing deadlines are not met, Companies House may then proceed with prosecution against the directors. This is no idle threat; prosecution proceedings are likely to be issued at any time after any promised date is missed.