Thousands appeal Companies House penalties

Thousands of incorporated firms are reading up on the appeal process at Companies House amid signs that sending their accounts 21 days before the December 31st deadline was not proactive enough to avoid a late filing penalty.

Within this month's first two weeks alone, nearly 1,700 appeals were lodged at the companies’ registrar, including one by a business owner who reportedly claims he posted his accounts by first-class on December 16th.

Although this would normally provide ample time for the accounts to reach Companies House, the hazardous weather of last month knocked out much of the postal service - in some regions for days at a time.

But Companies House says the bad weather was not uniform across the country, and will therefore only qualify as an “exceptional circumstance for some companies,” its officials told ThisisMoney.

According to the Companies House website, late filing penalties (LFPs) – which start at £150 - are also issued automatically (once the accounts become overdue) to the company’s registered office.

“You may appeal against a penalty but it will only be successful if you can show that the circumstances are exceptional,” says its guidance, which adds that accounts being delayed in the post will generally not qualify.

Appeals to LFPs must be made in writing to the Late Filing Penalties Appeal Section at the address show on the front page of the penalty notice, with replies normally received within 10 working days.

During 2009-10, Companies House's own annual accounts show that LFPs generated £85m, up from £53m on the previous year.

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