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Appeal of Companies House late filing penalty

Any advice on appealing a late filing penalty?

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We recently had an instance where we were unable to file accounts for a client company through VT Filer. The filing failed, giving us a very uninformative error message. We later found out that the Companies House service was unavailable between 8am and 8pm on the filing deadline (a Saturday). We filed the accounts at the beginning of the following week and appealed the inevitable penalty. Companies House rejected the appeal, saying that we should have been aware that the service was unavailable (we weren't) or could have filed between 8pm and midnight on the Saturday (perhaps, if we'd known that it would resolve itself at 8pm) and, sticking the boot in for good measure, saying that leaving it until the last minute "seems unnecessarily risky".

Anyone have experience of this? It seems a bit harsh to me, but should we just accept it and move on?

Replies (18)

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
02nd Aug 2021 16:23

Id not bother, I might go 50/50 with the client.

Presumably they have broken your T&C's by it ending up being filed anything like so ridiculously late on in the first place. Eg was slow to pay, or sign, or slow to produce the records or something.

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A Putey FACA
By Arthur Putey
02nd Aug 2021 16:40

Did CH give reasonable notice of the downtime? Ought you to reasonably have been aware of it? CH planned maintenance is usually put on gov.uk not sure if they go so far as emailing Presenters. Surprised they didn't take that line rather than "well you did leave it to the last minute".

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By sanjay100
02nd Aug 2021 21:56

Really difficult to appeal against companies house penalties. You are right it is damn harsh and unreasonable they do not accept your appeal. Unfortunately there is no other avenue available.

Unfortunately, I have couple on appeal since March and waiting to hear from them and you have a better case so think I will end up having to pay for the penalties since it was my fault.

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Stepurhan
By stepurhan
03rd Aug 2021 08:52

To be fair, leaving it until the last minute IS unnecessarily risky. When I am put in that position by a client, I always check Companies House afterwards to see if the filing has gone through.

But even if you have an excellent reason for your 11th hour filing, I have never heard of a case where Companies House accepted an appeal.

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RLI
By lionofludesch
03rd Aug 2021 10:26

How much is the fine?

How much will it cost to challenge it?

Why were the accounts filed so late?

Why wasn't the period shortened?

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My photo
By Matrix
03rd Aug 2021 10:32

To avoid filing accounts on a Saturday it is so easy to get the 3 month extension due to Covid or other reasons. Too late for the OP but good to have the option.

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By Rgab1947
04th Aug 2021 09:56

Similar insofar that my software could not connect to CH and my software support said it was CH. CH said it was my software provider. The usual run around.

Paid the fine for the client even though it was last minute data supply.

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Replying to Rgab1947:
RLI
By lionofludesch
04th Aug 2021 10:07

Rgab1947 wrote:

Paid the fine for the client even though it was last minute data supply.

Will that make them bring their stuff in earlier next year or are you contributing to your own problem ?

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By petestar1969
04th Aug 2021 10:11

You have 9 months to file......

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Replying to petestar1969:
By petersaxton
04th Aug 2021 10:20

You can't file until you have the data and have worked on it to get accounts

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Replying to petersaxton:
RLI
By lionofludesch
04th Aug 2021 10:33

petersaxton wrote:

You can't file until you have the data and have worked on it to get accounts

On the other hand, there comes a point where you say to the directors "if the stuff's not here by tomorrow, we won't be filing your accounts on time."

It's their responsibility, not the accountant's.

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Replying to lionofludesch:
By petersaxton
04th Aug 2021 10:44

lionofludesch wrote:

petersaxton wrote:

You can't file until you have the data and have worked on it to get accounts

On the other hand, there comes a point where you say to the directors "if the stuff's not here by tomorrow, we won't be filing your accounts on time."

It's their responsibility, not the accountant's.


I wasnt blaming the accountant. Far from it.
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By indomitable
04th Aug 2021 11:25

You won't get much joy with CH.

I also request clients give us at least a month prior to the filing deadline otherwise we cannot guarantee their accounts will be filed on time.

The client only have themselves to blame if they gave everything to you at the last minute.

Knowing the filing deadline was a Saturday everything should have been reported to CH by the Friday. Saturday is after all outside normal working hours.

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Replying to indomitable:
RLI
By lionofludesch
04th Aug 2021 12:11

indomitable wrote:
Saturday is after all outside normal working hours.

Not for a computer, it isn't.

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Replying to lionofludesch:
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By indomitable
04th Aug 2021 14:52

Alot of large organisations do their IT maintenance at weekends. My view is you will not get any change from CH and it's not worth pursuing. Personally I do not work at weekends and don't expect my staff to either. Our clients are fully aware that if they don't give us sufficient time it won't be filed and a penalty will ensue. It focuses their minds more

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By birdman
05th Aug 2021 10:24

Trouble with passing fine on to client in this instance would be client expectation - you've told them it might be late but you'll do your best, you've succeeded and they've signed off the figures in the nick of time - and then you tell them there will be a penalty anyway. From hero to zero in a flash....

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Replying to birdman:
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By Paul Crowley
06th Aug 2021 12:59

Agree
Problem is client expectation, but other way
Accountant pays the late file so no need to bother getting accounts in at a sensible time.
And no need to get accounts agreement authority to accountant until the last possible day.

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By adam.arca
07th Aug 2021 07:59

Personally, I think a lot of you seem to be missing the point.

Deadlines should work both ways, and that means 11:59:59.999 recurring on deadline day is still on time.

CoHo were the ones who pushed us all online and it’s their responsibility to make the system available. Undertaking maintenance on deadline day (weekend or not) is beyond stupid and should be completely unacceptable.

At the very least, CoHo should have a gatekeeper server which logs attempts to file even if the back office server is down.

Yes, there may be contributory negligence by the client to be in that position in the first place but that’s neither here nor there: the OP was in a position to file on time and should have been able to do so.

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