There has been a recent surge in Government measures intended to help businesses alleviate the impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Small and medium enterprises should take note of the following high level points and the related Government information documents:

Assistance for companies filing their annual accounts
Companies House has announced that companies may apply for a three-month extension for filing their annual accounts. In a recent press release Companies House advised that “applications can be made through a fast-tracked online system which will take just 15 minutes to complete”. Companies citing issues around COVID-19 will be “automatically and immediately granted an extension”.

Temporary changes to share transfer administration
HMRC announced temporary changes to its guidance on stamping stock transfer forms/SH03s. Among other things, these documents should not be posted and instead, an electronic version must be emailed to HMRC will accept an electronic signature and any issues in terms of obtaining a signature should be communicated to HMRC. Where documents have already been posted, the application should be resubmitted electronically to include the details of any payments made. Instruments submitted by post will not be assessed or returned until the temporary COVID-19 measures end. HMRC advises that no STFs/SH03s are currently being physically stamped. Instead, HMRC will confirm by email that payment has been made. This can be used by the company in terms of its administration procedures.

How to pay Stamp Duty
Temporary changes have also been introduced regarding the payment of Stamp Duty, which must be paid before HMRC can process a STF/SH03. Among other things, HMRC advises that electronic payment should be made and if payment was made by cheque it will not be banked until COVID-19 measures end, which means that the transaction will not be processed. If a payment cannot be made electronically, this should be communicated to HMRC via email.

New legislation: insolvency restructuring procedures and wrongful trading
In the press release referred to above, the Government also announced that it would lay legislation to introduce new insolvency restructuring procedures announced in August 2018, following the Spring 2018 consultation process. This new legislation will temporarily suspend the wrongful trading provisions “to give company directors greater confidence to use their best endeavours to continue to trade during this pandemic emergency, without the threat of personal liability should the company ultimately fall into insolvency”. However, it should be noted that “existing laws for fraudulent trading and the threat of director disqualification will continue to act as an effective deterrent against director misconduct”.

The Blaser Mills Law team will be monitoring developments closely as the situation develops.

How can Blaser Mills Law help you and your business?
For legal advice and assistance with all aspects of your business’ lifecycle please get in touch with the Corporate and Commercial team on +44 (0) 203 814 2020 or contact Simon Stone at