By Andrew Lambe, 19th August 2020 (Updated 4th September 2020)
The Companies Registration Office (CRO) will implement a new and improved IT system to replace the existing CORE interface by the end of 2020. Whilst the project has experienced some delays due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, the new infrastructure is now expected to go live in December 2020. This will be the first time in 22 years that the CRO have over-hauled their IT system.
It was previously announced that the new CRO CORE system would go live in Mid-September 2020, however, to ensure a smooth changeover the CRO has decided to postpone the go-live date until December after the key peak filing periods have passed.
What does the changeover mean?
The main feature and advantage of the new cloud-based CRO CORE system will be the ability to upload scanned PDF copies of signed documents. The current system is limited in that only ‘wet’ signatures (original signatures) are accepted on most document filings such as B1s, B10s etc. Professional Advisors will need to plan for this – the CRO will effectively close for one week to new filings during the changeover. We understand that all electronic forms generated on the old system will need to be submitted to the CRO before the change over in December – Otherwise, they will need to be re-generated under the new system.
Functionalities of the new CRO CORE system
The new IT system will feature a customer portal dashboard which contains details of submissions in draft form, as well as submissions pending and other relevant information. This cloud-based system will also keep users updated on any relevant companies that are being watched and provide a dynamic view of their status. All the various entity types and queries can be searched for now under the one search bar, including LPs and Co-ops, as well as disqualified Directors. The new system has a significant piece of functionality that will prevent a filing being completed before all necessary documents are filed, this is expected to significantly reduce filing errors. There will be 20 additional forms available online, which will result in 95% of the total CRO forms being online. There will be some other clever features such as the ability to email a link directly to clients for the payment of filing fees at the end of the filing process, the ability to generate individual signature pages for forms if required and the ability to only file forms appropriate to the company status and type. When documents are purchased, they will be immediately available rather than the existing process of having to wait for an e-mail.
The launch of the new system will allow the CRO to implement an important section of the Companies (Amendment) Act 2019, which was published in January 2020. This will change the required time for submitting annual returns for Irish Companies. The annual return filing procedure will change from a two-step to a one-step process; companies will be able to electronically file the annual return, upload financial statements and deliver any signature pages to the CRO anytime within a 56-day grace period. This does not allow any extra time for filing the annual return, but it will simplify the process making it easier for companies to meet their deadline. The only downside is that the financial statements must be uploaded before the signature pages can be generated, however, B1s can be signed using ROS and an overall certification page can be signed by the client in advance of uploading the accounts.
The CRO has reported that the project is being delivered on budget, and extensive testing has been ongoing. As with any new system, there have been some snags and the CRO are actively working with software vendors to ensure the system works exactly as intended and that any raised issues are resolved before the launch date. They will be putting on a series of webinars to showcase the new system before it goes live with the first two over-subscribed. We expect the final product to deliver a user-friendly and dynamic customer portal and enhanced electronic filing capability with the long-awaited acceptance of scanned signature documents.
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