Companies House has long provided a large amount of company data that is useful to creditors, and since mid 2015 this data is available free of charge.
As the cost of making a claim has risen over recent years, we would advise creditors to undertake some checks before starting proceedings for recovery of a debt.
What data is available
There are a number of signs that all may not be as it should with a company that you trade with, and data is now freely avaiable on the Companies House website.
Annual returns and accounts are available online as free PDFs, as are detials of mortgages/charges, notices, changes of address and director appointments/ resignations. You can also look up directors (“officers of the company”) and check all the other companies they are or have been involved with.
The warning signs
Company and/or Director data:
- Accounts and/or annual returns are overdue
- Frequent and/or recent changes to the registered address
- Proposals to strike off
- Notification to strike off in London Gazette
- Commencement of liquidation proceedings or appointment of an administrator
- Mortgages and charges registered against the company, especially recent ones
- Recent and/or frequent changes in directors
- Directors who are also directors of other companies that have failed or are struggling
- Directors associated with liquidated companies that had very similar names to the current company.
As well as running a more detailed credit check on a company when you start trading with them, it may also be worth considering using a monitoring service which most credit reference agencies now offer as part of the overall package. They will send you regular updates to any changes in the companies you are checking.
What if your customer is not a company?
If you are trading with an individual or a number of individuals (partnership) you can check The Registry Trust Online http://www.trustonline.org.uk/ for £10. You can check any judgments registered.
At the Land Registry https://www.gov.uk/search-property-information-land-registry you can search the individuals home address for the cost of £3 for find if they own the property they live in, any joint owners, mortgages/charges registered and when/how much they paid for the property.
This information should give you a better idea of the individual.
Call Tim Wheeler on 01242 505950 if concerned about credit worthiness of a customer.