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Companies House to Give Businesses 3-Month Extension to File Accounts

In order to enable businesses to manage the impact of Coronavirus, businesses are now (from 25th March 2020) able to apply for a 3-month extension for filing their accounts.

Companies are currently required to submit their accounts on a yearly basis. Under normal circumstances, companies that fail to file their accounts in time are subject to late filing penalties and directors of those companies are personally liable for prosecution which can result in criminal fines being imposed and in certain circumstances directors being disqualified from holding the position of a Director of a limited company.

The proposals will still require companies to apply for extra time in which to file their accounts but businesses citing COVID-19 as the reason for an extension will be granted the additional time automatically. Guidance on making an application for the extension is available on the government website.

The requirement to apply for an extension should be noted by all Company Directors if they require it. The only defence to any personal prosecution against a director for late filing is that they took all reasonable steps to ensure the filings were submitted on time. It is likely that any Magistrate considering any defence raised in relation to businesses managing the current Coronavirus pandemic would determine that it was a reasonable step to apply for the 3-month extension.

If you need any advice in respect of an offence of late filing of accounts or the reasonable steps defence, please contact one of our specialist lawyers for a confidential discussion.

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