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Bothering with the details
Jennifer Adams looks back at the administrative issues that caused the most grief in 2011 and sets the scene for the year ahead.
Companies Act 2006 did away with the legal requirement for a private limited company to appoint a company secretary, but someone has to keep up to date with the legal rules in relation to the company. A quick look at the Any Answers section of this website suggests that the person who seems to have been landed with the job is the accountant.
In response to the number of recurring company secretarial questions, AccountingWEB asked me to start contributing articles under the heading, Get the details right. The positive response indicates that the Any Answers queries were a very good indicator of an unfulfilled need. The dividends checklist continues to attract interest, with more than 20,300 reads since it was published a year ago.
The articles are written from a practical viewpoint and generally take the form of a checklist the secretary or anyone advising them can follow to make the regulatory procedures as easy to follow as possible
In addition to overviews on requirements for directors’ loan accounts, dividend waivers, incorporation and the rights and particulars section of form AR01, the guide on not for profit companies also got a surprisingly strong response. We did not know that so many of you were accountants for such organisations and will expand this area during the year with articles on flat management companies, charities and LLPs.
Unsurprisingly for a year dominated by the downturn, articles relating to company closures drew a strong response, including Striking off a company and the subsequent controversy around bona vacantia and ESC C16. To continue the cycle, a further article is planned on directors’ duties in liquidation.
Many people think that anyone can become a director by buying a company, opening a bank account and notifying Companies House and HMRC. The expert guide on directors’ appointments, registrations and removals’ showed that there is a little more to it than that. But once appointed can anything be done if a director proves to be a problem or are you stuck with what you have got? Recession equals company and personal bankruptcy so it is best to at least be aware of any problem that might arise in the future in relation to the Companies Act rules. Not everyone is allowed to become or remain a director - there are rules covering disqualification, conflict of interest and so on that will be covered by articles later in the year.
One area meriting further investigation is in electronic communication. We assume that such communication is automatically available and possible, but the submission of accounts to Companies House and HMRC over the Christmas period was not without its problems. There are rules hidden amongst the sections of the Companies Act 2006 that refer to electronic communications specifically between the company and its shareholders; an article will cover this subject later in the year. I will also be hosting a webinar with Citrix on 23 February to discuss this topic in more detail - it would be great to interact with you there.
We continue to monitor Any Answers for ideas for potential articles, but if you come across an administrative or company secretarial that you believe merits an in depth answer that may other AccountingWEB members, please let the editors know and we’ll see if an article can be produced. We’re also looking into subjects that may be relevant for accountancy students, so do get in touch. One of the great satisfactions of contributing to AccountingWEB is the sense you get of being in touch with real people and the issues they experience in their daily working lives. Let’s hope we can reduce some of these sore spots during 2012.