The Government has been extremely pro-active in making a lot of information which, before it went digital, took much longer to access, and often involved paying third party agents to obtain and provide this information to you.
One important example is access to information about limited companies or Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs) registered in the UK. The relevant link to the website at Companies House is, for these purposes, https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk
Subject to knowing the correct name of the company or its registered number (which should appear on any formal documentation from it such as a letter, invoice or footer on emails), then this site will very quickly provide you with some key information. For example, under the heading “People”, it will tell you who are the current directors, and indeed who used to be directors but have since resigned. It will also indicate the “Persons with Significant Control”.
The directors are in charge of running the company, but do not necessarily also own it, although in many cases (particularly small to medium sized companies), a director is also a shareholder. Details about the share ownership can also be obtained by looking at the section headed “Filing History” and at the last filed Annual Return or Confirmation Statement.
Important other documents are also filed and usually can be accessed without payment of any fee, such as the latest annual accounts or the constitution of the company as framed in the Articles of Association.
We would recommend that anybody dealing with another company for the first time should access this information and verify the position to your satisfaction, bearing in mind that Companies House is not a credit rating agency.
There may be occasions where certain information requires interpreting, or further enquiry may be necessary, for example, if there is a private shareholders agreement in addition to the Articles. Shareholders Agreements are not normally required to be filed.
Dealing with constitutional matters affecting the relationship between shareholders in private limited companies, as well as acting on behalf of the buyer or seller of shares in a private limited company are some of our areas of expertise in company law, so do please feel free to get in touch in the first instance with Rob Hughes on 01530 266000, or to send him an email email@example.com if you have any queries or would like further assistance.