Statutory reporting deadlines easedby
Businesses of all sizes have been given leeway on their statutory disclosures as they wrestle with the chaos wrought by the coronavirus outbreak.
On Wednesday (18 March), Companies House announced that firms who were struggling to file their accounts on time could apply for a deadline extension under existing processes.
Ruth Trainer from Companies House, told the ICAEW that the registrar would grant an automatic two-month extension to those in isolation who couldn’t file on time. Applications would be treated on a case-by-case basis, though she added: “We will not be able to allow any more additional time than this as the law states that we can only provide an extension for three months in total.”
ICAEW Business Group director of technical strategy warned that the Companies House extension would not cover firms that file with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) or Prudential Regulatory Authority (PRA).
The FCA rode to the rescue on Saturday and announced a two-week moritorium for preliminary financial statements.
Listed companies and the audit profession were struggling with “unprecedented challenges” during the past few weeks, the FCA said.
“The unprecedented events of the last couple of weeks mean that the basis on which companies are reporting and planning is changing rapidly. It is important that due consideration is given by companies to these events in preparing their disclosures. Observing timetables set before this crisis arose may not give companies the necessary time to do this.”
The authority pointed out how issuing preliminary financial statements in advance of the full audited accounts added to the pressures on preparers and was not a requirement of stock market listing rules or the EU Transparency Directive.
The moratorium applies to companies listed on the London Stock Exchange, but not AIM.
Currently, listing rules require audited financial statements to be published within four months of the end of the financial year and this remains in place. However, the FCA said it was talking with the Financial Reporting Council about the practical issues facing auditors and was working on a further package of measures aimed at ensuring companies get adequate time to prepare appropriate disclosures to detail the uncertainties of the current situation.
The three bodies will announce details of this additional package “shortly”, the FCA said.
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