Increasing Transparency in the UK – Companies House to make Company Checks Free

On 15 July 2014 Companies House announced that it is to make all of its digital data available free of charge. In 2013/14 customers searching Companies House spent £8.7 million accessing company information on the register about more than 3million companies.

Companies House customers are currently required to pay up to £1 per search to view business appointments, charges and annual accounts but by June 2015 any information accessed digitally will be free, although requests made by telephone will incur a fee.

As a result of the changes it will be easier for businesses and members of the public to research and scrutinise the activities and ownership of companies and connected individuals. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) said that by removing the fees the UK would become the first country to have an open register of business information.

Following on from the proposals in the paper by BIS (see our blog on this “Government Proposals to aid Transparency and Improve Trust in UK Companies”), “Transparency and Trust: Enhancing the Transparency of UK Company Ownership and Increasing Trust in UK Business’, which concentrated on identifying who really owns and controls UK companies, Vince Cable, the business secretary has said “By making its data freely available and free of charge, Companies House is making the UK a more transparent, efficient and effective place to do business.”

This is just one of a number of changes currently in the wings at Companies House. It has recently been announced that over the next two years the systems at Companies House will be replaced and this will allow company information be viewed and updated through a new single web service. Other plans include company documents available to view with a single click and a mobile application.

For advice and assistance in relation to your company’s company secretarial compliance please contact the Forbes Solicitors Business Law Department on 0800 037 4628 or send an enquiry using our contact form.

Nick Pickup

About Nick Pickup

Nick Pickup is a Solicitor within the Corporate and Restructuring team at Forbes Solicitors. Nick’s blogs cover his specialism of work on mergers and acquisitions, business start up’s, joint ventures, shareholder issues, company restructures and general company advice.
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