Confirmation Statement filing changed

Companies House are now asking for us to confirm the client's future trade will be lawful!

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Companies House have changed the procedure for filing Confirmation Statements for clients this week. Most worryingly, they now ask the person filing the Confirmation Statement (that's us, on behalf of the client) to confirm: '...that the intended future activities of the company are lawful.' Has anyone else encountered that, and if so do they feel in a position to make that sort of statement? We don't; we're putting all Confirmation Statements on hold until either we're confident it doesn't hold us out to additional liabilities, or the statement is changed so it's clear that the client is making the statement, not us.

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RLI
By lionofludesch
05th Mar 2024 11:48

Announced last Autumn, came into effect on Monday.

Surely you get your client's assurance that he's not conducting any illegal trade already?

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By Paul Crowley
05th Mar 2024 11:57

As Lion says, old news.
Does not worry me. The statement is not going to change so it really is a question of living with it.

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By Roland195
05th Mar 2024 12:02

To some extent, if you are acting for the client in any capacity, you must be satisfied that the client is operating legally but I understand why an agent would be reluctant to make this statement.

I look forward to the queries arising where clients are operating without relevant permits/licences or engage in a questionable trade - the retail of "novelty" products.

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Replying to Roland195:
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By whatdoyoumeanwashe
15th Mar 2024 17:13

Operating legally at present, sure. It's the future intentions of another person that are above my paygrade to opine on.

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Replying to whatdoyoumeanwashe:
David Winch
By David Winch
15th Mar 2024 17:45

Nit picking I know, but it's the CURRENT intentions about future activities that the confirmation statement refers to.
David

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Replying to davidwinch:
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By FactChecker
15th Mar 2024 19:47

Not really nit picking, just attention to detail.
But of course it does mean that the 'statement' is wholly without merit.

If you (the agent) currently (when signing) know of intentions to trade unlawfully then you can't continue as agent; but if you are currently blissfully unaware of what is around the corner (by when intentions may have changed) then you're free to sign.

Absolutely pointless exercise.
A CH spokesperson admitted as much (in a recent article on this site) when the only 'justification' was that it gave them one more stick with which to beat a recalcitrant company IF they are somehow found to be doing something illegal.

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By bluebaron
05th Mar 2024 12:03

I filed a confirmation statement at 10am yesterday, and I don't remember encountering that statement. Odd.

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Replying to bluebaron:
Backwoodsman
By backwoodsman
05th Mar 2024 12:51

It seems to have changed as of this morning.

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Replying to backwoodsman:
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By AdamJones82
05th Mar 2024 13:24

Seems to be no pattern as I did two this morning and wasn't asked!

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Replying to AdamJones82:
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By Geoff56
05th Mar 2024 14:11

That would be correct if the 'as at' dates were prior to today.

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DougScott
By Dougscott
05th Mar 2024 12:44

Just say no. No you can't confirm that the client's future trade will be lawful.

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Replying to Dougscott:
Backwoodsman
By backwoodsman
05th Mar 2024 12:53

There is no choice - you have to tick to say that you agree the statement (that the company does not intend to do anything illegal in the future) to then be able to file the Confirmation Statement.

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Replying to backwoodsman:
RLI
By lionofludesch
05th Mar 2024 14:56

backwoodsman wrote:

There is no choice - you have to tick to say that you agree the statement (that the company does not intend to do anything illegal in the future) to then be able to file the Confirmation Statement.

It's nice that the Government trusts criminals to keep their word.

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Replying to lionofludesch:
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By SkyBlue22
05th Mar 2024 15:24

It's likely just so that, if it turns out to not be lawful, the gov can turn around and go 'aha!' you lied to us and use it to justify any penalties.

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Replying to lionofludesch:
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By Open all hours
05th Mar 2024 18:30

Based on their experience of PPE contracts I assume.

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Stepurhan
By stepurhan
05th Mar 2024 13:06

Are you not filing this on the client's behalf, having already got them to sign to confirm what you are filing is correct?

Because if you are filing confirmation statements without getting confirmation from the client there are no changes, this statement might be the least of your problems.

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Replying to stepurhan:
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By FactChecker
05th Mar 2024 13:38

Quite.

OP's "so it's clear that the client is making the statement, not us" worries me ... for precisely that reason.
Liability (as with anything filed by an Agent) remains with the primary party - but it would be madness to complete/submit any sort of return without acceptance by the client of everything in it as being true and fair.

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Replying to stepurhan:
By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
05th Mar 2024 14:04

It seems many firms file this without authorisation, especially in the "its all a button press" club.

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Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
Backwoodsman
By backwoodsman
05th Mar 2024 14:57

Just to confirm, we always get the client's confirmation that there are no changes, before we file. We've never though asked them if they plan to do anything illegal in the future! Looks like we'll be asking that too now.

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Replying to backwoodsman:
Stepurhan
By stepurhan
05th Mar 2024 15:39

Then you have already been leaving yourself open to issues.

Because "have there been any changes" is not confirming the information you are submitting is correct. The client could easily turn round and say they misunderstood what changes needed notifying. Or that they misunderstood what date was relevant when checking. Or that they had notified you of changes (so no new changes to mention) but human error had caused them not to be updated in the company records.

Much better practice to take the confirmation statement to just before submission, then send that to the client and ask them to confirm the information is all correct. You then ensure you are submitting exactly what the client says you should, including the answer to this new statement.

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Replying to stepurhan:
Backwoodsman
By backwoodsman
05th Mar 2024 15:47

Thanks stepurhan - with the changes Companies House have made, asking an individual in our firm to confirm a client's future intentions we'll be copying and pasting the whole thing over to them in future.

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DougScott
By Dougscott
05th Mar 2024 13:09

I suppose it's a completely meaningless statement. Today I may not INTEND to do anything illegal but tomorrow, after the Budget, I might change my mind and, say, "ride my bicycle furiously".

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Replying to Dougscott:
stonks
By WinterDragon
05th Mar 2024 15:10

And I suppose you think your entitled to ride that bicycle without paying road tax! Absolute lunacy!

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Replying to WinterDragon:
DougScott
By Dougscott
05th Mar 2024 18:50

It's not road tax, it's an emissions tax. That's not to say I won't be giving off emissions if I cycle furiously.

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Replying to Dougscott:
stonks
By WinterDragon
05th Mar 2024 23:31

Dougscott wrote:

It's not road tax, it's an emissions tax

This would explain why I was looked at funny when I shouted out the window of my EV to lecture a cyclist on needing to pay road tax to not use the designated cycle lane.

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Replying to WinterDragon:
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By FactChecker
06th Mar 2024 01:44

Of course, and rather boringly, it's neither - as what hypothecation ever existed was rescinded back before even my time (1936) ... so it's just part of what flows into government coffers before disappearing heaven knows where.

However it still exercises the mind of parliament from time to time ... https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/sn01482/

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Replying to davidwinch:
Backwoodsman
By backwoodsman
05th Mar 2024 14:59

Thanks David - I missed that particular one - maybe I had other things going on when it was released...

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stonks
By WinterDragon
05th Mar 2024 15:09

I'd familiarise yourself with the ECCTA 2023 that received royal assent last year.

But if you're just looking to keep up with the headlines, I'd sign up for updates from the Companies House blog as you may have missed that their prices are going up significantly in May.

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Replying to WinterDragon:
Backwoodsman
By backwoodsman
05th Mar 2024 15:12

No, we've seen the price rise and told the clients. And we read the detail of the changes - we just didn't realise that we'd be confirming that the company has no plans to do anything illegal - with no option that we're doing so on their behalf - ie we're making the statement, not them.

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By Tom+Cross
05th Mar 2024 16:08

Whilst I'm quite opposed to AML and the significant extra costs and time that this process costs, surely this is an 'opportunity' for risk assessments, to form part of your assurances, to Companies House?
Provided that the risk assessments have been completed, without just ticking the boxes, you should have absolute confidence that the future intended activities of your client company, are indeed lawful.
However, yet again, another 'hit' from the desks of "Yes Minister".

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By johnthegood
05th Mar 2024 17:54

its been in the pipeline for months, I wouldn't worry too much about it. I assume you get the required permissions before filing?

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Replying to johnthegood:
Backwoodsman
By backwoodsman
05th Mar 2024 19:02

We do - we send a copy of what the client is being asked to confirm, and ask for their written confirmation that it's correct. We're now going to also copy them the statement Companies House are asking us to make about future illegal activity and ask them to confirm that as well. As has been said already, the whole thing seems pointless: of course no criminal would lie and say they're going to be well-behaved...

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Replying to backwoodsman:
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By FactChecker
05th Mar 2024 19:12

Well the odd (very odd) one might blow their remaining brain cells wrestling with the moral dilemma:
* Do I lie and say I'm honest, or tell the truth that I always lie?

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Replying to FactChecker:
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By Leywood
05th Mar 2024 19:42

I suspect most of them will think the OP is barking, rather than thinking it was something from higher powers.

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By paulwakefield1
06th Mar 2024 08:32

So presumably not an issue if the current activities are illegal as long as the intended future ones are not.

More seriously, "intended" is a good get out word. It was never my intention, yer 'onour. Although a hostage to fortune for someone submitting the confirmation statement purporting to know what is in a client's mind.

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Replying to paulwakefield1:
RLI
By lionofludesch
06th Mar 2024 09:50

paulwakefield1 wrote:

So presumably not an issue if the current activities are illegal as long as the intended future ones are not.

[chuckle]

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By Justin Bryant
06th Mar 2024 09:44
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Replying to Justin Bryant:
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By FactChecker
06th Mar 2024 12:05

At least they 'fess up to the blindingly obvious:
"While the 'lawful purpose' statement would not in itself stop illegal activity, it provides an extra hook for any subsequent prosecution, Companies House said."

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