A lot of directors and presenters started asking about their chances of being prosecuted by the CRO. Even the title of the email was enough to startle people!
The CRO issued 20 summons against companies and will take these cases against the companies before issuing more proceedings. It will be interesting to see the reaction of the judges to these summons. These are the first proceedings the CRO have taken since the Companies Act 2014 was commenced.
Any company that is late filing an annual return. The CRO will focus on companies that have a poor filing history. These are companies that for various or strategic reasons do not file on time but don’t get struck off. The summons is issued against the company itself and not the directors.
The offence is a category 3 offence and carries fines of up to €5,000. The fine will depend on the evidence given by the CRO official and the opinion of the Judge. This may be mitigated if the directors can show the outstanding annual returns have been filed.
The CRO have advised that where the Registrar has commenced criminal proceedings for late or non- filing of annual returns, any subsequent applications by the company concerned under section 343(5) Companies Act 2014, will be objected to by the Registrar on the basis that proceedings have already been commenced against the company for the said late filing of annual returns.
Don’t ignore it!! The company should engage a solicitor or barrister to represent the company in court. CLS can assist with engaging an experienced solicitor. The company should do everything it can to file the outstanding annual return & audited financial statements and should pay the late filing penalties. The company will still have to attend court despite filing the annual returns but this may help to mitigate the fine imposed by the court.
If your company has a poor filing history or you’re a presenter and some or all of your companies have a poor filing history then you are increasing your chances of receiving a summons. Any company with a poor filing history should take every step to start filing on time and avoid prosecutions.
The CRO have reduced the period from when a company is late to commencing strike off proceedings from 300 days to 240. They intend to reduce this back furthur to 200 days in the coming months so companies will have even less time to filing late returns. The 240 days starts after the filing deadline which is 28 days after its ARD.