The Registrar of Companies is a statutory role and the Registrar is independent in the exercise of this function. Decisions relating to the treatment of annual returns rest with the Registrar.
In March, the Registrar took a decision, in light of the Covid-19 situation, to treat all annual returns, where the deadline for filing falls between 18th March 2020 and 30th June 2020 (both dates inclusive), as received on time if all elements are submitted by 30th June 2020. The Register took a further decision in May to extend the arrangement until 31st October 2020 for companies filing with the Companies Registration Office and until 31st December 2020 for friendly societies, industrial & provident societies and trade unions filing with the Registry of Friendly Societies. At that time, the Registrar indicated her reluctance to providing any further extension later in the year but committed to keep the situation under review.
The CRO plays an important role in providing up to date information to those who deal with business in Ireland. A range of stakeholders including creditors, lawyers, lenders, commercial entities, law enforcement and the Revenue Commissioners all have a need to access up to date commercial information relating to companies registered with the CRO. In the current situation, the Registrar must balance the public interest in having up to date company information available against the difficulties caused by the pandemic.
It should be recognised that significant numbers of companies have managed to file their annual returns and have not needed to avail of the full extended filing period. I am informed that over 56% of companies who are due to file by end October have already completed their filing while a further 20% have partly filed. This reflects the normal experience of companies filing with CRO.
I understand that the Registrar, having considered the issues and bearing in mind the current level of restrictions in operation, considers that it is not appropriate to further extend the filing period beyond 31st of October. However, the matter is being kept under ongoing review.