It seems that a useful resource for many people including corporate lawyers could be handicapped if Companies House decides to delete historical records. At the moment there is a wealth of information that can be revealed not only about companies but also shareholders and directors. Other valuable information can be discovered from reviewing reports from liquidators and administrators.
As the Government has sought to open access, many of these documents which previously were only available at a cost and engaging a search agent are now available online, for free, at the click of a button. Long gone are the days of waiting for a printed company report or even analysing microfiches (whatever they are.) This could have a knock on effect for corporate transactions.
In many disclosure letters there is a general disclosure of matters apparent from a search of the file of the target company at Companies House. If the proposals go ahead, the seller may need to provide additional disclosure. If buying, historic details can reveal historic transactions that sellers may have forgotten about which can be very useful as part of legal due diligence.
Millions of public records used to track down white collar criminals and combat money laundering would be deleted under proposals being considered by the government’s company registration agency.
Companies House maintains a database on every firm incorporated in the UK, providing access to their accounts and listing all directors and shareholders. But the agency is facing mounting pressure from businesses and reportedly from members of parliament to take down valuable information.