By Caitlyn Buchanan, 21st July 2021
The Companies Registration Office (CRO) annual report was recently published. The CRO Annual Report 2020 contains the latest updates and statistics on their activities for the year.
Restrictions and Challenges in 2020
With the outbreak of a worldwide pandemic, 2020 was a challenging year for many Irish entities including the CRO. When the Government declared lockdown restrictions on 12th March 2020, the CRO Public Office in Dublin was closed and had not fully reopened by the end of the year. In late March, the staff began working from home and the office was opened on a limited basis for essential work that could not be done remotely. This allowed the CRO to gradually restore their full range of services.
Despite the challenges of Covid-19, the CRO launched a major overhaul of their existing CORE infrastructure on 16th December 2020, a project which had been in the works for three years.
Support for Irish Companies
To accommodate Irish companies and presenters the Registrar suspended enforcement activity from March 2020 until the end of the year and extensions to Annual Return filings were announced on three separate occasions.
The Companies (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Covid-19) Act 2020 came into effect in August 2020, making temporary amendments to the Companies Act 2014 and the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1893. To address Covid-19 related issues the Act allowed for the Hybrid Annual General Meetings to be held by electronic means (this has now been extended until the end of 2021). The Act also supported business solvency by extending the period of examinership and increasing the threshold at which a company is deemed unable to pay its debts.
Key Findings from the CRO Annual Report 2020
Over 431,000 submissions had been filed with the CRO during 2020. At the end of 2020, there were 251,275 Irish companies in existence on the register, 89% of which are private companies limited by shares. In 2020, there were more companies added to the register than those removed, which has been the norm for some years. However, the increase has been exacerbated due to the suspension of involuntary strike-offs in March 2020.
New Company Registrations
A private or public company are the two basic legal forms for business organisations to choose from in Ireland. The majority of companies on the register are small private companies with only one or two members. In 2020, there were 21,873 new companies incorporated, a decrease of nearly 1,900 from 2019. Naturally, there was a significant reduction in the number of incorporations during March, April and May of 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic was declared, and strict lockdown restrictions were introduced.
Please Note: In the first quarter of 2021 new company registrations increased by 24%.
343 Applications to the District Court
A company that is late in filing its annual return can make an application to the court for an order extending the time to file its annual return for that year. This process is for “live” companies and is not available to dissolved companies. In 2020, the CRO received 342 notices of Section 343 applications to the District Court.
External (Branch) Companies Registered
Foreign bodies with limited liability can establish a branch company in Ireland. According to the CRO Annual Report 2020, there were 46 new external company registrations last year. The most popular jurisdiction was the Cayman Islands, registering 23 new Irish Branch companies.
Creation of Limited Partnerships
Under the Limited Partnership Act 1907, the creation of a partnership allows some members to have limited liability for the debts of the firm. Unlike Irish companies, a limited partnership is not a separate legal entity from its members. There were 214 limited partnerships registered in 2020, a reduction on the number from 305 registered in 2019. Compared to previous years this is still an abnormally high number of limited partnership registrations.
The full CRO Annual Report 2020 is available on the CRO website. Company Bureau can assist you with a Section 343 court application as well as the registration of Irish companies, Branch companies and limited partnerships. If you have any questions about any of the topics covered in this article, please don’t hesitate to contact us or call 01 6461625.
Disclaimer This article is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal or professional advice. No liability is accepted by Company Bureau for any action taken or not taken in reliance on the information set out in this article. Professional or legal advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of this article. Any and all information is subject to change.