On 26 October 2023, the House of Lords announced that the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill has received Royal Assent and is now an Act.

The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act seeks to:

  • Prevent organised criminals, fraudsters, kleptocrats and terrorists from using companies to abuse the UK’s open economy.
  • Strengthen the UK’s broader response to economic crime.
  • Support enterprise by enabling Companies House to deliver a better service.

In a press release, the government explained that Companies House will receive enhanced abilities under the Act to verify the identities of company directors, remove fraudulent organisations from the company register and share information with criminal investigation agencies. Law enforcement agencies will benefit from greater powers to seize, freeze and recover cryptoassets, while ground-breaking legal reforms will allow the courts to “dismiss spurious lawsuits which seek to stifle freedom of speech”. It is intended that prosecutors will be better able to hold large corporations accountable for malpractice.

These changes aim to level the playing field for all businesses, ensuring the UK’s open economy remains a world class centre for businesses to grow and prosper. At the time of writing, the final text of the Act has not yet been published – we will publish a further blog once it has been.