Friday, November 04, 2011

Urgent – Companies House disagrees with regulators

Every now and again we post something on the Blog and have to directly contact clients about it at the same time.  This is one such occasion.
We have today heard from Companies House that they will not accept combined annual and final progress reports.  
We had previously understood from the regulators that if an IP was unable to issue the draft final report before an annual progress report fell due and he therefore needed to produce both an annual report and a draft final report, the regulators considered that it was possible to issue a combined annual and draft final report.  We have spent some time coaching clients on how to achieve this and we have commented on the matter on the Blog.  We have become aware of the Registrar refusing some annual reports, but in the fog of rejections of all sorts of documents that seem to be coming out of Companies House recently, we have only today received a firm answer that they will not accept combined reports.  Despite the regulators being happy with the concept, the Registrar refuses to recognise them in law as they do not meet the regulations that govern the operation of their Register.
So, what should you do now?  The easiest way to avoid the problem is to issue your draft final report early enough to avoid the problem.  As long as it issued before the anniversary date you won’t need to do an annual progress report at all.
If you have missed the anniversary date, our official line has to be that you should file separate annual and final reports with the Registrar to minimise the risk of getting them filed without rejection.  However, we have seen so many rejections of documents by the Registrar for numerous different reasons that we cannot be sure that even a separate annual progress report would be accepted first time, so a more practical answer might be that you see what you can get filed by trial and error.  You may, for instance, get a combined report filed as long as you send it in twice: once headed up as an annual report and referred to as such in any covering letter and in the accompanying R&P; and once headed up as the final report with the dates and headings adjusted accordingly.
We will continue to try to get the Insolvency Service’s view and if they agree with the Registrar we will see if there is any chance of the legislation being amended to make the whole filing system easier, but we, like many of you, are getting thoroughly fed up with the whole procedure.  Surely it would be better for the Registrar to file whatever you send and the regulators and Insolvency Service deal with any deficiencies through the normal monitoring channels?  The sort of points that the Registrar is getting involved in do not have any impact on the integrity of the register and are largely at the end of a case when very few stakeholders are still interested.  Wasting hours returning and re-working reports has to be contrary to public policy on better regulation.
This is the bottom line though…Companies House will not accept combined reports…unless you know different!!