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Brexit, Company Law and meeting the challenge of Covid-19

The coronavirus and the illness that it causes , Covid-19, are posing challenges to Company Law as well as to many other sectors of business life.

It is, therefore, good to see that both the UK and EU authorities are working along similar lines in seeking to relax within strict limits the full application of company law to meet the current health emergency.

ESMA (the European Securities and Markets Authority), an EU supervisory body, issued a Public Statement on 27 March 2020 effectively enabling EU-regulated quoted public companies to delay the issue of their annual financial accounts, covering a period ending on or after 31 December 2019 but before 1 April 2020, by up to two months and similarly to delay by up to one month the issue of  half-yearly financial accounts with an end date ending during the same period.

UK Companies House issued similar guidance on 25 March 2020 effectively enabling UK registered companies, which are adversely affected by Covid-19, to file accounts up to three months late provided that the companies concerned apply to Companies House for an extension before the original due filing date expires.

These are examples of the way that the regulatory authorities in both the UK and the EU are working to reduce the regulatory burden on companies at this challenging time.

Hopefully, these relaxations, which are intended to be temporary, will have no long-term adverse effect on corporate governance but will be seen as no more than strictly necessary in the circumstances.