At the recent Business Show at Olympia, Companies House gave a presentation on why businesses should consider registering for limited status.
The main benefit of becoming a limited company is to protect your company name – be aware that this is not the same as trademarking; to trademark a name you must contact the IP Office – and qualify for limited liability status. Limited liability is where the liability of the members is limited by shares or by guarantee.
In return the company must send certain information to Companies House for public viewing. This more transparent way of doing business offers advantages to your company. For example, if you are looking to do business with other companies they are more likely to want to work with you if you have built a public reputation and filed your accounts and turnover annually.
To become incorporated on the Companies House register, your company name must meet certain requirements. It must be unique and non-offensive;rememberthatwhat may not be offensive to you might well upset those of different sensibilities. Companies House also has a company names adjudicator and can hold tribunals for opportunistic company name registrations. For example, when Glaxo Smith and Kline announced that they would merge to become Glaxo Smith Kline, they had not yet incorporated the name – someone saw the opportunity and got in before them in the hope of a pay out.
Working from home
One of the trading disclosures of being registered with Companies House is that the company name must be displayed at all places of business and at the registered office address. This means that if your business is registered at your home address, you need a sign in your window displaying the full company name.
Addresses can be expunged for a price if it puts someone at risk – for example, if a company tests on animals and the directors of the company are at risk from protestors, it becomes a privacy priority.
Businesses are no longer required to have a secretary, but they are required to have a director. Businesses can incorporate with one director, who will have very specific responsibilities:
- Delivery of accounts and annual returns
- Keep the registered office adress up to date – you must inform Companies House of changes within 14 days
- You cannot have a director under the age of 16 – directors appointing their children can’t take a three year old to court for non compliance
- There is no upper age limit for directors
The director is responsible for annual returns which is a snapshot of company details, but this is totally separate to HMRC returns. To make things easier, you can sign up to reminders so you know when this information must be submitted – not to do so is to risk incurring fines.