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Companies House empowered to combat fraud: new measures under economic crime act take effect

Companies House empowered to combat fraud: new measures under economic crime act take effect


Companies House implements robust measures, including enhanced data checks and criminal penalties, to combat fraud and misinformation

In a ground-breaking move, Companies House has initiated the first phase of implementing new powers granted by the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act 2023 (ECCT Act) on March 4, 2024. Aimed at enhancing data quality and curbing misuse of the companies register, these measures signify the most significant change in Companies House's 180-year history.

Key changes introduced under the ECCT Act include:

  1. Greater powers to query information and request supporting evidence.
  2. Stronger checks on company names.
  3. New rules for registered office addresses, prohibiting the use of PO Boxes.
  4. Mandatory provision of a registered email address for all companies.
  5. Requirement for subscribers to confirm lawful purposes during incorporation.
  6. Greater powers to tackle and remove factually inaccurate information.
  7. Enhanced data-sharing capabilities with other government departments and law enforcement agencies.

These measures are accompanied by the introduction of new criminal offences and civil penalties, forming a comprehensive strategy to combat fraudulent activities.

Companies House CEO, Louise Smyth, emphasised the historical significance of these changes, stating that the enhanced powers would specifically target cases where individuals' names and addresses were misused without consent. The streamlined process for reporting and removing such information aims to provide quicker relief for affected individuals.

Business Minister Kevin Hollinrake commended the reforms, highlighting their potential to protect the public from fraudulent activities that tarnish the reputation of businesses within the UK's open economy. The measures are designed to lift the veil of misinformation and bolster the UK's standing as a secure business environment.

The phased roll-out of these powers is structured to minimise disruption for legitimate businesses. Many of the changes will seamlessly integrate into existing reporting cycles, ensuring a smooth transition. Companies House plans to communicate further requirements to businesses through its channels and campaigns as additional measures are introduced.