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Companies House admits late filing appeal delays


Businesses are being pursued by debt collectors for late filing penalties as Companies House takes six months to respond to appeals, according to large accounting firm Blick Rothenberg. 

15th Dec 2021
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A log-jam of penalty appeals at Companies House is leaving businesses with prolonged delay and uncertainty.   

A Companies House spokesperson confirmed the delays.“We understand that it remains a difficult time for business and we’re committed to helping companies meet their filing obligations. However, owing to the significant number of late filing penalty appeals being received we are experiencing some delays in processing them."

Many of these appeals are from privately owned businesses that missed the late filing deadline for their financial statement because of health issues or being trapped overseas due to the pandemic. 

Six month delay

However, accountancy firm Blick Rothenberg claims some businesses are waiting as long as six months for the registrar of companies to respond and when they do get a response, appeals have been “generically rejected without regard to the difficulties faced by the business”.

“When this is challenged, it is passed to another department for further review adding to the prolonged delay and uncertainty,” said Marc Levy, a partner at Blick Rothenberg. 

Levy added that some penalties have been passed on by Companies House to debt collectors before the appeal has concluded. 

“This is the last thing that such business owners need, when they are under financial strain, still waiting to hear the outcome from Companies House and just fighting to survive."

Lodge appeals early

A Companies House spokesperson told AccountingWEB that it is taking steps to address the delays caused by the number of late filing penalty appeals it has received and has apologised for the inconvenience caused. 

They added: “All appeals are individually considered and, if the appeal is unsuccessful, the appellant has the option to ask our Senior Casework Unit to review the decision and following that ask for an independent adjudicator to review the case.” 

In the meantime, the Companies House spokesperson encouraged companies to lodge appeals in good time.

“Once we’ve received an appeal, recovery action is put on hold until the matter is dealt with. Occasionally, we do receive appeals after recovery action has started and, as soon as we are aware an appeal has been made, we will suspend recovery action until the outcome of the appeal is known.”

“Occasionally we do receive appeals after recovery action has started, or there can be a delay between recording receipt of an appeal and pausing any ongoing action. As soon as we are aware an appeal has been made, we will suspend recovery action until the outcome of the appeal is known.”

Extension to the filing deadline

Companies House introduced a three month accounts filing extension on 25 March as a way to support businesses and ease burden during the pandemic. As AccountingWEB readers discovered this week on Any Answers, this measure is still in place for those requesting an extension due to the impact of Covid-19

The Covid filing deadline extension was automatic up until June 2021, but Companies House has since switched the application to an online form and AccountingWEB readers have reported receiving confirmation of the extension minutes later. 

This confirms Companies House’s statement that extensions will automatically be granted an extension if they haven't already extended their filing deadline or shortened their accounting reference period.

Users have also been granted a three month extension for other reasons beyond Covid. “I just requested an extension for a director who was ill (none Covid) and the company was granted the full three months extension within minutes,” said one AccountingWEB member. 

Not enough for Covid-hit businesses

However, Blick Rothenberg’s Levy said that this extension is not enough. 

“Despite Companies House giving three-month Covid filing-deadline extensions, this has often not been enough for businesses faced with unprecedented extenuating circumstances outside of their control.  

“Whilst the three month extension is not unreasonable and has been very gratefully received, it is ironic that in some cases it is taking Companies House as long as double this time to address late-filing penalty appeals, which would ordinarily be concluded within 30 days."

Replies (2)

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Should Be Working ... not playing with the car
By should_be_working
17th Dec 2021 10:11

"Once we’ve received an appeal, recovery action is put on hold until the matter is dealt with."

Err, no. we have a client for whom we lodged an appeal (genuine Covid-related health issues). Received the standard '30 days' holding reply. Not long after the 30 days was up, lo and behold, they're chasing again and the debt collection letter turns up. Now we've complained they have again suspended recovery action. We'll see for how long....!

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By Sameh-Nabil
24th Dec 2021 08:52

We have submitted an appeal for companies house which we didn't receive any replies regarding it.

While we received a "final warning" to pay the penalty before 24 December or it will be forwarded to the debt collector.

We are non Uk residents also. Can you please provide your advice for this issue?

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