Late delivery of accounts: no more three-month extensions

United Kingdom

Some directors and company secretaries may have a false sense of security about the time permitted for delivery of the annual accounts.

Companies carrying on business or having interests outside the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man have until recently been able to claim a three-month extension to the period allowing for laying and delivering accounts and reports. It was a simple matter of annually filing a form 244 with the Registrar of Companies, as permitted under section 244(3) of the Companies Act 1985; the concession then applied automatically for the relevant financial year.

But this sub-section was repealed by regulation 9 of the Companies Act 1985 (International Accounting Standards and other Accounting Amendments) Regulations 2004 (SI 2004/2947). As a result, for accounting reference periods that begin on or after on 1 January 2005, it is not possible to secure an extension merely by filing a form.

Directors are still permitted to apply for an extension to the normal periods (10 months for private companies and seven months for public companies) under section 244(5) of the Act. Permitting an extension will be at the discretion of the Registrar of Companies, who will need to be convinced that there are “special reasons” for doing so. Usually, special reasons include an unforeseen event outside the control of the company and its auditors. The length of any extension is also subject to the Registrar’s discretion, and will not necessarily be as long as three months.

Any application for an extension must be made before the normal 10- or 7-month deadline has expired.

For further information on accounts and accounting reference dates please contact George Yuill, alternatively please click here to access the Companies House website in a new window.