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Companies House to allow coronavirus-related filing extensions

20 March 2020: businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic can now apply to Companies House to request an extension to file their accounts, reports and confirmation statements.

The maximum extension is three months, but stringent conditions apply, the most important being that any appeal must be lodged before a company’s filing deadline.

Updated government advice states that all appeals are treated on a case-by-case basis, and the COVID-19 appeals process will follow the existing criteria based on those for unforeseen poor health.

Ruth Trainer, Stakeholder Engagement Manager at Companies House, told ICAEW: “If you are impacted by the coronavirus (eg, self-isolating) and cannot file on time you can apply for an extension and we will automatically grant a two-month extension.

“If we receive a request for a further extension, we will consider each case individually and grant a further month if deemed necessary. 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.”

But Philippa Kelly, Director of the ICAEW’s Technical Strategy Business Group, issued a warning for firms that secure an extension from Companies House, but also still need to interact with the PRA or FCA for regulatory filing purposes, that caution should be exercised.

“There is currently no blanket extension on regulatory filing, so it doesn’t necessarily mean that other regulators will offer the same extensions. With everything changing by the day, our advice is to check in with your regulatory supervisor for absolute clarity.

As usual, any company accounts filed late will incur an automatic penalty.

Meanwhile, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in America has also announced a 45-day extension for certain publicly traded company filing obligations. In a statement the SEC commented that it is “closely monitoring” the impact of coronavirus on investors and capital markets.