UK Companies House
UK Companies House incorporates and dissolves limited companies under the Companies Act 1985 and related legislation. It also provides company information to the public. UK Companies House is an executive agency of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). Although a part of the UK government, UK Companies House is primarily run as a corporate organisation.
UK Companies House is managed by a chief executive under the guidance of a Board of Directors. The chief executive of UK Companies House also serves as the Registrar of Companies for England and Wales. Scotland. A Steering Board, consisting of DTI personnel and private sector executives among others, advise on governance issues.
One of the important functions discharged by UK Companies House is registering companies. In the UK, existing laws permitted one or more persons to form a company. Now a public company and an unlimited company need to have a minimum of two members.
UK Companies House registers four types of companies:
- Private company limited by shares;
- Private company limited by guarantee,
- Private unlimited company and
- Public limited company.
UK regulations also allow the formation of a Community Interest Companies (CIC), which work for the betterment of the community rather than the enrichment of owners. A separate regulator appointed under The Companies (Audit, Investigations and Community Enterprise) Act 2004 oversees CICs. The incorporation of CICs is undertaken by the Registrar of Companies with the approval of the CIC Regulator. CICs also need to discharge obligations thrust on companies by the Registrar of Companies such as filing annual returns. In addition, CICs have to file an Annual Community Interest Company Report.
Company Formation at UK Companies House
The documents essential for forming a company in UK are Memorandum of Association; Articles of Association, Form 10 and Form 12. While the 'Memorandum of Association' contains details such as name, registered office address and objectives, the Articles of Association contain details of how a company intends to manage its affairs. Form 10 provides details of directors, secretary and registered office while Form 12 is a declaration by lawyer or a company official such as director or company secretary that all legal requirements relating to company formation have been complied with.
UK Companies House also requires businesses ensure that the name of their company does not resemble an existing company. Nor should it contain restricted words and ones that could cause offence.
If the documents are in order, the Registrar of Companies issues a certificate of incorporation in five days. A premium service costing higher fees helps in registering companies in a single day at UK Companies House.
Registration as a company entails certain legal obligations. The law requires companies to submit accounts and annual returns to UK Companies House. Companies are also required to furnish information about key changes in business.
UK Companies House makes available the information submitted by companies to the public; some of it free, but most of it priced. Consumers can access its company information products through web pages, WebCheck and Companies House Direct or contact centres at Cardiff, London and Edinburgh. Consumers can also obtain information through email, fax and post. In addition to information services, UK Companies House also provides services such monitoring companies for a fee.
Some business research firms buy company information from UK Companies House and add value to it in terms of additional information, packaging and analysis and sell it to consumers.
UK Companies House hopes to improve the quality of its services through greater use of information technology and organisational restructuring. Now it is migrating to a new Companies House Information Processing System Infrastructure, which will improve the quality of its services further.
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