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As a CLRG Member (nominated by the Small Firms Association) you will not be surprised that I think the CLRG is extremely relevant. My fellow Members consist of representatives across a wide range of business interests such as legal, accountancy, business representative groups and trade unions.
In the past couple of years the CLRG was directly involved in the following Acts which have already entered the business lexicon and are examples of how business needs were heard by the Minister, reviewed by the CLRG and enacted by the legislature.
The Companies (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Covid 19) Act 2020 – a very timely and uniformly welcome piece of legislation that came into being in an unusually short timeframe. The Act enabled companies to have shareholders attend Annual General Meetings electronically. Electronic participation at meetings has rapidly become the norm in so many areas in a manner that would have been thought impossible four years ago.
The Companies (Rescue Process for Small and Micro Companies) Act 2021 – commonly known as SCARP the Act is intended to help viable insolvent companies to restructure debts and avoid liquidation.
The Companies (Corporate Enforcement Authority) Act 2021 – seen as a fresh start for what used to be the Office of Corporate Enforcement. Do not let the title of the Corporate Enforcement Authority put you off exploring its website where there are actually a surprising number of information guides to help companies, directors and members understand their roles and rights.
The CRO are set to re-launch its requirements for PPS / VIF numbers to be included when filing various statutory forms such as changes to Director details, Annual Returns, etc on Sunday 11th June 2023 (the original April launch date was postponed).
Take into account that if you file one of the statutory forms impacted by the issue such as an Annual Return without the PPS / VIF numbers now and then submit the signature page after 11.06.2023 the Annual Return will be rejected.
How to obtain PPS / VIF numbers
Following on from my previous blog all Directors of any company incorporated in the South of Ireland must provide his or her PPS / VIF number in order to file any of the following statutory forms in the Companies Registration Office (CRO).
Form A1 – company incorporation
Form B1 – annual return
Form B10 – change of Director and/or Company Secretary details
Form B69 – filed by a Director and/or Company Secretary noting resignation where company has failed to do so.
A PPS number is provided to any individual tax resident in Ireland and can be found in a variety of places such as an individual’s:
European Health Insurance Card
PAYE Notice of Tax Credits
The name attached to the PPS number and filed in the CRO must match exactly.
A VIF number has to be requested by any individual that does not have a PPS number.
A VIF Form will have to be completed by the individual before a Notary Public when sworn outside of the South of Ireland. The correctly completed VIF Form is then filed with the CRO. Once filed the CRO will then issue the VIF number.
So far three potential roadblocks have been identified by clients.
Disparity between PPS name and name filed in the CRO. KomSec is currently engaging with its clients to identify and remedy this roadblock.
Time involved in completing process to obtain VIF number involves a number of different elements but, at least the VIF Form can be sent to KomSec electronically as the original signed Form is not required.
Concerns on how long it may take Department of Social Protection to confirm details to the CRO. Only time will tell how this may impact on filing deadlines forAnnual Returns and if a delay could result in a company losing audit exemption.
Do not worry KomSec is here to help as we continue to:
contact our clients to help them prepare and comply with this new provision;
prepare and file statutory forms required to resolve any disparities that exist between PPS name and name filed in the CRO; and
help clients to apply and obtain individual VIF number.
KNOW YOUR NUMBERS - PPS / VIF number – New filing requirements imminent…..
Reality – imminently (due to commence on the 23rd of April but a temporary postponement was put in place by the CRO) … all directors of any company incorporated in Ireland must provide his or her Personal Public Service (PPS) number or Verification of Identity (VIF) number when filing certain documents in the Companies Registration Office.
What is difference between PPS and VIF number – PPS number is available to any individual tax resident in Ireland. VIF number is established where an individual is not tax resident in Ireland.
Scam Awareness – this is new filing requirement has already generated publicity and offers a unique opportunity to scammers. Be very careful how you engage with anyone asking for your PPS number.
Why now - the requirement to provide a PPS number is contained in the Companies (Corporate Enforcement Authority) Act 2021 but, it has taken time for the technology and verification processes to be designed and tested.
Why is it required – the purpose is to add an additional layer to verify the identity of a director when filing documentation in the Companies Registration Office.
Is compliance really necessary – providing the PPS number is a mandatory requirement which means failure to comply is a Category Offence. It also means any statutory filings will be rejected which would have knock-on effects in terms of dealing with banks, losing audit exemption, etc.
Who sees PPS/VIF number – the person preparing the statutory form for filing will enter the PPS/VIF number. When filed electronically the PPS/VIF number will never be visible to any staff in the Companies Registration Office or members of the public.
What now – where the PPS or VIF number is not already on record KomSec will contact its clients directly. Additional blogs will be issued as the process gets up and running.
In November 2022 the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that the rights of the public to access information on the beneficial ownership of companies was “a serious interference with the fundamental rights to respect private life, and to the protection of personal data”.
Whilst the provision of beneficial ownership originated from an EU Directive on Anti-Money Laundering the right of public access to that information impacts in so many different areas.
This is an EU wide problem as the bulk of Member States in the EU have established their own Registries of Beneficial Ownership.
Buying, selling, merging companies all include basic searches in the Companies Registration Office and Central Register of Beneficial Ownership. These searches are intended to support the information provided by the buyer, selling, merging entities and give comfort to all involved.
Would you be willing to consider buying or selling or merging with a company when you cannot verify details of beneficial ownership filed in the relevant EU Registry?
Despite immediate and widespread reaction against the ruling the reality means that for many companies throughout Europe their rights to access beneficial ownership details continue to be denied.
Directive 2019/2121 (Cross-border Mobility) became EU law on 31.01.2023 although Ireland has yet to transpose it into Irish law.
The Directive itself does not provide for transitional arrangements for Cross-Border Mergers commenced under the current Cross-border Merger Regulations (SI 157 of 2008) to complete under the current regime, following the 31.01.2023 transposition deadline.
It is up to individual Member States to determine its own Regulations on how to manage the transition from 31.01.2023 to whenever those Regulations come into effect.
Ireland has proposed to provide two options for a company currently planning a Cross-Border Merger.
An Irish company currently planning to engage in a cross-border merger and seeking to rely on the current legislative regime can publish the common draft terms in advance of the new Regulations. The company will then have a six month period within which to hold its general meeting to approve draft terms and complete the transaction under the current regime.
Companies may wait until the new Regulations are in place.
The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment is in the process of drafting the Regulations which will be introduced by way of Statutory Instrument.
The Charities (Amendment) Bill 2022 was published by The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphries on 29 April 2022. The purpose of the Bill is “to provide for a number of amendments to the Charities Act 2009. The proposed amendments aim to improve the ability of the Charities Regulator to conduct its statutory functions, ensuring more proportionate regulation leading to greater public trust and confidence in the charities sector.” The Bill is expected to be enacted later this year.
Some of the provisions include the following;
Establish the promotion of human rights as a charitable purpose.
Increase the threshold for filing of a full set of Financial Statements from a maximum gross income or expenditure of €100,000 to €250,000 (aligning with the Companies Act 2014).
The accounting standard “Charities Statement of Recommended Practices (SORP)” will be compulsory. An exemption will be permitted for charities with a turnover of less than €250,000.
Definition of charities trustee to be amended to exclude Company Secretaries (who hold no other office in the charity).
Introduction of new statutory fiduciary duties for trustees to act in good faith, avoid conflicts of interest and exercise an objective standard of care, skill and diligence when advancing the charitable purpose of the charity, mirroring similar duties of Directors under the Companies Act 2014.
New Definition of the term “Member”. This change extends the requirement to maintain a Register of Members to unincorporated associations.
Click here for full text of the Charities (Amendment) Bill 2022
The Companies (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Covid-19) Act came into being during the Pandemic when restrictions on travel within Ireland, flights into Ireland and inability to attend public gatherings led to fairly substantial practical problems for many companies. The implementation of the Act resolved some of those problems not least being the ability for a company to convene its Annual General Meeting virtually.
In December 2022 the Government announced the extension of some parts of the Act to the end of this year (31.12.2023). In particular, certain company meetings (including Annual General Meetings) can still be held virtually. This will be welcome news to many companies who prefer this format although there is nothing to stop a company holding a physical meeting if they wish to do so.
One of the biggest talking points at the time the Beneficial Ownership Register was put in place was the fact that the public could access it. This meant the public could see the names of the beneficial owners, what percentage shareholding they might hold and even their dates of birth and home addresses!
All that has now changed further to an unexpected European Court Judgment last week. Its ruling means that from now on only 'Designated Persons' can search the Register and obtain beneficial ownership details.
From a practical point of view, the ruling will not affect the vast majority of companies. They are still obliged to ensure both their internal and external Beneficial Ownership Registers are completed in full and kept up to date. The banks as a 'Designated Person' will continue to be able to search the Register and (in our experience) refuse to/delay providing credit facilities to companies if they have queries over the information lodged.
In summary, even if Joe Public can no longer have a peep, there is still no excuse not to register your Beneficial Ownership information and keep it updated!
Charities Classification System
The Charities Regulatory Authority launched a Classification System on 14th November 2022 (as part of Charities Week) which broadly mirrors classification systems in other jurisdictions.
The purpose of the system is to improve functionality of the Charities Register, provide clarity on registered charities, improve data for research.
Charities to self-determine classification and rely on a “best fit” as it is not possible to achieve a perfect system. It is important to note that Classification will not put a limit on the types of activities a charity can carry out to further their charitable purpose.
How does it work?
In the example provided by the Charities Regulator, a museum for example would choose category “Arts and Culture” and can then select two secondary groups “History, heritage and culture” and “Museum or library”.
How to search charities using the classification System
A search facility will be introduced when the database is populated. This will be of benefit to funders, researchers and potential volunteers.
What should charities do now?
• Directors to agree on classification and record decision at a Board Meeting.
• Log into MyAccount to complete and submit form
• Once off process (unless charity wishes to amend it in future)
• Automatic registration of classification
• Immediate update to Register of Charities
There’s a new Classification Section on their website with more information which includes:
- All Categories
- Companies Registration Office
- Company Law Review Group
- Company Registers
- Latest News
- Annual Returns
- Beneficial Ownership (1)
- February 2024 (2)
- January 2024 (1)
- December 2023 (2)
- November 2023 (1)
- October 2023 (3)
- July 2023 (1)
- June 2023 (1)
- May 2023 (2)
- April 2023 (2)
- February 2023 (2)
- January 2023 (1)
- November 2022 (3)
- September 2022 (2)
- August 2022 (1)
- June 2022 (2)
- May 2022 (3)
- April 2022 (2)
- March 2022 (2)
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