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Bulk of Companies Act finally rolled out

Biggest ever item of legislation lumbers onto the books

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Most of the 2006 Companies Act will finally come into force on Thursday, when 550 sections of the massive Act are implemented, leaving only a handful of sections to be enacted.

The Companies Act was the biggest single piece of UK legislation ever passed and its introduction has been staged over three years. Almost all of its remaining provisions will come into force on 1st October.

The sections coming into force this week cover areas such as the formation of companies; companies’ constitutions and capacity; company names and business names; re-registration of companies as a means of altering status; protection from disclosure of residential addresses of company directors; shares and share capital; company charges; dissolution and restoration to the register; unregistered companies and overseas companies; and the registrar of companies.

A section of the Act on directors' addresses will come into force which will allow directors to use a 'service address' rather than their home address in filings to Companies House that are visible to the public. This is designed to protect directors of controversial companies, such as those involved in animal testing.

While police, public authorities and credit reference agencies will still be able to access the home addresses of the directors, any who consider themselves particularly at risk can apply to have their home address hidden from credit reference agencies. This is only possible for addresses lodged since 2003.

"If you are at serious risk of violence or intimidation because of the activities of a company of which you are a director; an overseas company of which you are a director or permanent representative; or an LLP of which you are a member then you can apply under section 243 [of the Companies Act] for your protected information not to be disclosed in future to credit reference agencies," said guidance published by Companies House.

Other provisions to be introduced this week will mean that directors of private companies with only one class of share can arrange that they will no longer need the authority of shareholders to allot shares.

The new law will also introduce new procedures for incorporating companies. In changes to the way companies are registered and managed, it will introduce 58 new forms for Companies House.

"With these changes coming in, companies should really review their constitutions and ensure that they are fully compliant with the new rules," said Derek Stroud, a corporate law expert at Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind OUT-LAW.COM.

The Government's Companies Act commencement timetable can be accessed here.

Copyright © 2009, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

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