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Filing documents during the COVID-19 lockdown

Filing documents during the COVID-19 lockdown

Alison Marshall

Published by
Alison Marshall

26th March 2020

The current lockdown situation has caused a number of public service providers to close their offices or to put in place procedures limiting contact with third parties. There has also been widespread disruption to business making filing deadlines difficult or impossible to comply with. This has required a change in procedure for company filings in relation to annual accounts and stamp office returns.

Filing company accounts
Most private companies are required to file their annual accounts with Companies House within 9 months of their accounting reference date. The current situation impacting many businesses, including accountants, may result in companies being unable to file their accounts on time. Those suffering such difficulties can apply to Companies House to have an automatic and immediate three month extension to file their accounts

Provided this extension is applied for before the filing deadline, the usual automatic penalties can be avoided.
This is a welcome provision by Companies House, which could provide welcome relief for many companies struggling to manage the current situation.

Paying stamp duty
Stamp duty on the transfers of shares is usually carried out by submitting paper documents to the Stamp Office to be formally “stamped” in return for paying the relevant amount.

Special procedures have been put in place by the Stamp Office to allow electronic stamping of documents during the current situation:

- Payments must be made by electronic transfer – cheques will not be banked until after the emergency measures end, and the transaction will not be processed if payment is sent by cheque.
- Rather than providing paper documents, only emailed documents and information will be accepted.
- The Stamp Office is accepting documents signed by electronic signature for the time being.
- Your document will not be stamped as such, but a letter will be issued by email confirming stamp duty has been paid.

Companies House has confirmed that forms SH03 submitted with a suitable Stamp Office letter rather than being stamped will be accepted for filing.

Please remember that we at Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP are here to help, so please don't hesitate to get in touch if there is anything you think we can help with.

The information contained in this newsletter is for general guidance only and represents our understanding of relevant law and practice as at March 2020. Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP cannot be held responsible for any action taken or not taken in reliance upon the contents. Specific advice should be taken on any individual matter. Transmissions to or from our email system and calls to or from our offices may be monitored and/or recorded for regulatory purposes. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered office: 302 St Vincent Street, Glasgow, G2 5RZ. A limited liability partnership registered in Scotland, number SO 300336.