There are interesting comments form FT reported in the FT this morning. They have said:
The public availability of certain data is the trade-off for limited liability and we are legally required to make the data on the register available, and the response to free data indicates that this is an overwhelmingly positive step
I agree that free data is invaluable: I have used it, extensively. But that does not resolve why Companies House fails to collect accounts or annual returns form at least 400,000 companies a year and strikes the companies in question off rather than chase for the appropriate information.
Nor does it explain why, as the FT noted, Companies House have suggested that they may only keep the records of dissolved companies for six years now. Companies House justified this, saying:
Companies House has always had an obligation to delete expired records after a certain period of time has elapsed. It is not unusual for public bodies to review their data handling practices to ensure they comply with data protection law
I would agree that made complete sense when physical records were involved. But to pretend this is necessary in a wholly digital era is absurd.
The use and abuse of limited liability is a matter of considerable public importance and being able to trace someone's track record is important. This move is one in the wrong direction and which would be grabbed upon with delight by any tax haven if they ever get near public registers.
Time to think again, I think.