Who keeps the business register in the United Kingdom?
Companies House is the business register for the UK including England and Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
What information does Companies House hold?
The register provides information filed by companies, limited liability partnerships, limited partnerships, overseas companies, EEIGs (European Economic interest groupings), cross-border mergers and SEs (Societas Europaea, European Company). You can search for more information on filing requirements at Companies House. The register does not hold information on sole traders, general partnerships and business names.
Is access to the business register free of charge?
Yes, access to the register is free of charge, as is the retrieval of basic company information.
How to search the business register in the United Kingdom
Company information on the UK business register can be searched at Companies House, using the ‘WebCHeck’ service.
To which extent can the documents in the register be relied upon?
The registrar of companies
This section describes the position in respect of company information because it represents the majority of the material on the register.
The main legislation governing the operation of the UK register is the Companies Act 2006. Under that Act, information is delivered, for registration, to the registrar of companies (“the Registrar”) by a company, or agents acting on its behalf. Once delivered, the form of the information is checked to ensure it is complete. The Registrar accepts this information in good faith. No validation or verification is made of the accuracy of the information. If acceptable, the information is registered so that a record is maintained and made available for public inspection. Searchers of the register may rely on it, except for a limited class of information, but only to the extent that the information delivered to the Registrar is accurate.
A limited class of information on the register has legal consequences as a result of its registration. This information can be relied upon by searchers as it appears on the register. This class includes,
- incorporation of a company (section 16 Companies Act 2006)
- registered office address and its change under section 87
- company name and its changes under section 81
- re-registration of a company to alter its status e.g. from a private company to a public company etc. (sections 96, 101,104, 107 and 111)
- reduction of the capital of a company (sections 651 and 665)
Criminal sanctions can be enforced for serious inaccuracies in the information delivered to the Registrar. Section 1112 Companies Act 2006 makes it a criminal offence to knowingly or recklessly deliver false, misleading or deceptive information to the Registrar.
A company cannot rely against a third party on specific events having taken place unless it has been officially notified, or it can be shown that the third party knew of the event (section 1079 Companies Act 2006).
The specific events are as follows:
- amendment to the company’s articles
- change among the company’s directors
- change in the company’s registered office
- making of a winding up order in respect of the company
- appointment of a liquidator in a voluntary winding up of the company
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