Please sign up to the Companies House eReminder service

The United Kingdom government Companies House has an eReminder service that allows them to send out emails to up to 4 email addresses per company to remind secretaries or directors or other responsible people of legally important filing dates.

To set this go into the Companies House webfiling service and for each of your companies add your email address/es, or if you have an accountant that does this filing then get them to add your email address as one of the recipients. The system sends out a confirmation token to the email address to round-trip the subscription.

If you are a director of a company then you have certain legal duties related to your company. These are encoded in a multi-hundred page law plus more guidelines and regulations. There are a few critical dates and forms to file but this can all be done online in minutes.

The “Companies House” (who is the monopoly registrar of companies in England and Wales) has got a very good electronic system in place but there were a few things (the most important things) that still go via the regular post regarding filing accounts and annual returns. So they have an electronic filing system that allows you to file instantly but the trigger was paper-based letters sent out via the snail-mail post.

Confusion is guaranteed especially as more people think of their company as a virtual entity (well it is a legal fiction even though it is a legal person that has fundamental rights) and that all transactions are done online. With the statistics for missed or late filings then there has always been a background level of late filing and the government has got a reasonable amount of a few million pounds sterling a year from fines. For very large companies with paid accountants this non-filing is probably for strategic reasons to avoid having the financial position of the company revealed but for very small companies this is probably due to lack of staff or just plain forgetfulness.

Since early 2009 the statistics for fines has fluctuated dramatically and I think the Companies House noticed this too or simply saw that the ability to file documents electronically in minutes and yet they send out postal reminders was an illogical use of dead-trees and the eReminder service was launched mid-last year 2011.

If everyone uses this then it should stop or eliminate the accidental penalties and all that will be left will be the deliberate non-compliance, which is what the government is after anyway. The multi-million quid windfalls in fines that the government gets should also drop to a fraction of that.The effectiveness of this should hopefully show up in the statistics that the Companies House has on its web site for late-filing and fines from about last August onwards.

The UK remains a good location to start and run a company, especially a technology company. The ability to form a company in a day on your own for a few pounds and file everything electronically is incomparable to other parts of Europe that maintain a traditional approach of large minimum capital, high legal fees and lots of paperwork.