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Registrar of Companies 23 May 2022

RMcH states: Interesting artice from Company Bureau re Companies Registration Office (CRO) as it continues to evolve alongside new legislative changes that are looming.

The Registrar of Companies, Maureen O’Sullivan, spoke at a conference recently that I had the pleasure to attend. I am pleased to provide an update regarding the Companies Registration Office (CRO) as it continues to evolve alongside new legislative changes that are looming, as well as changes arising as Ireland comes out of the Covid-19 pandemic. This article contains prevalent CRO and general Irish Company Law updates.



CRO Digital Transformation

The CRO is updating its new system regularly to improve performance and fix bugs. The Registrar of Companies, Ms O’Sullivan, noted that the next big project for the CRO is the implementation of a section in The Companies (Corporate Enforcement Authority) Act 2021 that requires a PPS number to be used on all CRO forms for directors of Irish companies. This requirement is being implemented to assist with the identification of directors and to prevent fraud. Read More

CRO Enforcement

The CRO Public Office closed in March 2020 due to the pandemic. The Registrar announced that there are no plans to reopen this office due to the majority of filings being made fully online since the introduction of their new CORE system in December 2020. The Registrar also highlighted that the companies register now holds close to 270,000 live companies which is a record number. However, the register has reached this large size due to the suspension of involuntary strike offs following the worldwide business disruption caused by the pandemic. The recommencement of involuntary strike offs in the coming weeks will result in a more realistic live company count.

Ms O’Sullivan explained that the CRO has developed an ‘integrity unit’ across several departments internally. The creation of the integrity unit is in response to the large number of fraudulent companies that were incorporated last year. The CRO are working with the Department of Justice also to ensure that professional intermediaries are correctly registered as TCSPs if they are not members of professional bodies such as Chartered Accounts Ireland or the Law Society. Many of the fraudulent companies have been passed on to the ODCE for investigation.

Annual Returns

The Registrar assured the attendees that there will be no further Covid-19 annual return extensions in the pipeline. Ms O’Sullivan stated that there are around 10,000 companies to be involuntarily struck off for having a late annual return. It was also announced that the CRO will recommence prosecution of directors and companies in the District Court that are ‘late annual return repeat offenders’, with a maximum penalty not exceeding €5,000. Those who wish to file annual returns and bring companies up to date before the CRO recommence their strict enforcement regimes can do so by ordering this service here.

Register of Beneficial Ownership (RBO) Update

It was announced by the Registrar that approximately 10% of companies are yet to make their RBO filing and the RBO is now issuing summons’ to companies that have not yet made their filing with the central register. This is the first time that the RBO has taken enforcement action for non-compliance since its establishment in July 2019. Read More

ODCE Update

The ODCE is currently in the midst of a transition into its new independent form, the ‘Corporate Enforcement Authority’ (CEA), which will be an impartial, sufficiently funded, corporate watchdog. The ODCE is now recruiting for brand new, specialist roles within the CEA. The ODCE expect a rise in liquidations and corporate insolvencies in the coming year due to the termination of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme earlier in the year. The ODCE will soon recommence prosecutions of directors of companies that have been involuntarily struck off the register. This will commence when the CRO resume the enforcement action noted above.

Charities Update

On 29th April 2022, Minister Humphreys published the General Scheme of the Charities (Amendment) Bill 2022 which proposes to reduce the audit threshold for charities from €100,000 to €10,000 and empowers the Charities Regulator to wind up charities. Furthermore, the proposed legislation intends to clarify and put into statute the duties of charitable trustees, set a financial reporting standard for charities and establish ‘the advancement of human rights’ as an official charitable purpose. Ireland is one of very few countries that does not recognise this important issue as a charitable purpose. There are currently around 11,000 registered charities in Ireland and the introduction of this additional charitable purpose will hopefully lead to more charities being registered. We will keep you abreast as this bill moves through the stages before enactment. If you wish to register a Company Limited by Guarantee with the view to registering a charity, do not hesitate to get in touch with us.



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