Sections 1134 and 1135: Company records
1454. These sections replace sections 722(1) and 723(1) and (2) of the 1985 Act and enable a company to use electronic storage or paper for its records provided that there can be paper printouts of electronic records. Section 1135(1) also enables the contents to be arranged as the directors see fit provided that it is adequately recorded. Section 1138 (duty to take precautions against falsification) also applies if the records are not kept in bound books.
Section 1136: Regulations about where certain company records to be kept available for inspection
1455. This section is a new provision. It provides power for the Secretary of State to make regulations to provide an alternative to the company’s registered office as the location for inspection of specified records. The regulations are subject to negative resolution procedure.
Section 1137: Regulations about inspection of records and provision of copies
1456. This section replaces section 723A of the 1985 Act. It allows the Secretary of State to make regulations about the inspection and provision of copies of company records.
Section 1138: Duty to take precautions against falsification
1457. This section replaces section 722(2) and (3) of the 1985 Act. It makes it an offence not to take measures that protect records from falsification or help trace any falsification. This provision applies to records that are not kept in bound books, whether or not they are kept electronically, but does not apply either to companies’ copies of the directors’ service contracts or to copies of any qualifying third party indemnity provisions benefiting a director.
Section 1139: Service of documents on company
1458. This section replaces section 725 of the 1985 Act. It ensures that there is a place at which a document may be served on companies registered under the Act. It also applies to overseas companies registered in accordance with regulations made under section 1046. Subsection (4) enables court service on a company registered in Scotland or Northern Ireland at the company’s principal place of business in England and Wales. (Since this is a provision about court service, the rules on companies registered in England and Wales carrying on business elsewhere in the UK will be found in the relevant legislation in those parts of the UK.) Subsection (5) makes clear that this section is supplemented by the “company communications provisions” referenced by section 1143.
Section 1140: Service of documents on directors, secretaries and others
1459. This section is a new provision. It ensures that the address on the public record for any director or secretary is effective for the service of documents on that person. Subsection (3) provides that the address is effective even if the document has no bearing on the person’s responsibilities as director or secretary. This provision also applies to the address on the public record of various other persons for whom the Act requires an address on the public record. Subsection (7) similarly makes clear that this section is supplemented by the “company communications provisions” referenced by section 1143.
Section 1141: Service addresses
1460. This section defines “service address” for the purposes of the Companies Acts as an address at which documents may be effectively served and provides a power for regulations to specify conditions with which a service address must comply.
Section 1142: Requirement to give service address
1461. This section is a new provision. It qualifies requirements elsewhere to give an "address". Unless the requirement is for a particular kind of address (say, the usual residential address), the section makes clear that a service address (as defined in the previous Section) is what is required.
Section 1143: The company communications provisions
1462. Section 1143 introduces sections 1144 to 1148 and Schedules 4 and 5. These make new provision for communications with or from companies, typically with their members but also with debenture-holders and others.
1463. The Companies Act 1985 (Electronic Communications) Order 2000 facilitated the use of electronic and website communications in certain contexts, but there has been uncertainty as to whether other provisions under the 1985 Act for information to be communicated ‘in writing’ required the use of paper or could be satisfied by electronic communications. The Act makes new general provision about communications, including electronic and website communications for the Companies Acts as a whole.
1464. The general principle behind the company communications provisions is that companies should be able to use hard copy or electronic communications in all cases. However, these provisions are subject to anything in or under any other enactment, and, as regards communications between companies and Companies House, they are also subject to the provisions of Part 35 of the Act.
Section 1144: Sending or supplying documents or information
1465. This section introduces two Schedules, which apply irrespective of the company’s articles:
• Schedule 4 deals with documents and information sent or supplied to a company;
• Schedule 5 deals with communications by a company and between companies
1466. Sections 1146 (requirement of authentication), 1148 (interpretation of company communications provisions) and 1168 (hard copy and electronic form and related expressions) contain provisions necessary for the interpretation of Schedules 4 and 5.
Schedule 4: Documents and information sent or supplied to a company
1467. This Schedule brings together the rules on communications to a company. In some cases a company will have other companies as members, debenture holders etc, and paragraph 1(2) of the Schedule makes clear that communications by such members etc is governed by Schedule 5.
1468. Part 2 of the Schedule sets out the position for communications sent or supplied in hard copy form. These are very similar to the present position. Part 3 sets out rules for communications in electronic form. Part 4 is a more general provision and means that unless the Companies Acts specify a means of communication, for example under section 291(3)(a) (circulation of written resolutions proposed by directors), then a communication to the company can be sent or supplied in any way agreed by the company.
Schedule 5: Communications by a company
1469. This Schedule sets out provisions on how companies are to communicate with their members, debenture holders etc. These rules are subject to, for example, additional rules which the FSA may require of companies traded on a regulated market.
1470. Part 2 of the Schedule sets out standard rules for communications in hard copy. Paragraph 4 lists the addresses to which the company may send or supply documents or information. Where the company has no address for the intended recipient, the company may use the recipient’s last known address. By virtue of section 310(4), this provision does not prevent a company making provision in its articles not to send notice of a general meeting to members for whom the company no longer has a valid address. Section 423(2) makes similar provision for the annual report and accounts.
1471. Part 3 of the Schedule relates to communications by e-mail or other electronic methods. Paragraph 6 allows a company to send a document or information in electronic form to a person who has agreed (either generally for all communications or specifically for a particular document or piece of information) and where such person has not revoked that agreement.
1472. Part 4 deals with publication of documents or information on a website. Paragraph 10 allows a company to pass a members’ resolution or make provision in its articles about website communication. If it has done so, members (or their nominees) are taken to have agreed to receiving information from the company via a website if they have also been asked individually for their acceptance and have either agreed or not responded within 28 days of the company’s request. Where a member has not agreed to communications in this way, the company may not ask the member again within a period of twelve months. In addition, section 1145 (right to hard copy version) gives a member the right to request a hard copy of the communication. Paragraph 11 and section 1145 make equivalent provision for debenture holders. Paragraph 13 requires companies to notify intended recipients each time material is published on a website. Paragraph 15 enables the company and a member to agree alternative methods of communication, for example other than website communication where a company has defaulted to website communications.
Section 1145: Right to hard copy version
1473. This section provides individual members or debenture holders the right to require information to be sent in paper copy form. A company is required to send a paper copy of the document or information within 21 days of receiving a member’s request at no charge to the member. Subsections (4) and (5) impose a penalty on every officer in default if the company fails to comply.