Joint regulators statement for companies, auditors and users of financial accounts on reporting timetables

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27 Jan, 2021

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have published a joint statement reminding companies that extended financial information timelines continue to apply in light of the continued disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The FCA and the FRC encourage all stakeholders, including in particular boards of listed companies, to re-familiarise themselves with the measures which remain in place. These are as follows:

Corporate Reporting for listed companies

Temporary reliefs for delayed publication of financial statements will remain in place until the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic abates. The joint statement indicates that companies will be given plenty of notice when it is decided to bring any of these measures to an end.  The measures are:

  • An additional two months to publish annual financial reports (link to FCA website) (i.e. within six rather than four months of the financial year end date).
  • An additional month to publish half yearly financial reports (link to FCA website) (i.e. within four rather than three months of the financial half year end date). 

Extended period for filing accounts at Companies House

At present the deadline for filing any accounts with Companies House is extended by 3 months. While this automatic extension expires on 5 April 2021, it will be replaced with an application process (link to Companies House website) to Companies House, with companies granted a discretionary 3-month extension where they cite coronavirus as a factor impacting the timely completion and/or audit of accounts. 

Delaying or adapting Annual General Meetings (AGMs)

The temporary ability to postpone AGMs provided by the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 (CIGA) expired on 30 September 2020. Further CIGA measures to provide flexibilities around the conduct of AGMs have been extended to 30 March.  The Act provides no scope to extend them beyond that date.  The Chartered Governance Institute ('ICSA') in association with the City of London Law Society Company Law Committee and Martin Moore QC, with the support of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Financial Reporting Council has published guidance (link to ICSA website) to help clarify expectations surrounding company meetings scheduled to be held after 30 March 2021.   

The joint statement also covers extended reporting deadlines for public sector bodies

AIM Companies

Concurrently, the London Stock Exchange has also confirmed that the temporary measures put in place last year to allow AIM companies to request an extension of their reporting deadline remain available until further notice.  The temporary reliefs for AIM companies are:

  • An additional three months to publish the annual audited accounts (i.e. within nine rather six months of the financial year end date).
  • An additional month to publish its half yearly report (i.e. within four months rather than three months of the financial half year date).

As well as reminders of the temporary reporting reliefs in place, the joint statement also serves to alert investors to the changes in reporting timetables and remind companies of their reporting obligations under the Market Abuse Regulation.  The joint statement additionally highlights the guidance for companies that the FRC issued in December 2020 related to corporate governance and financial reporting during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

FCA and PRA regulated firms

The Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) has also issued a statement (link to PRA website) setting out its approach to regulator reporting for PRA-regulated banks, building societies, designated investment firms and credit unions (firms) in response to COVID-19.  The statement indicates that consistent with the above measures announced by the FRC and FCA, the PRA will accept a delay in the submission by UK banks and designated investment firms of their annual reports and accounts by up to two calendar months, where the remittance deadlines contained in the PRA Rulebook fall on or before Saturday 31 July 2021. For building societies, while the PRA is prepared to accept a similar delay, firms considering this may need to consider other statutory requirements that apply to them.  The PRA statement indicates that firms should keep their supervisory contact at the PRA notified of any significant developments in their financial circumstances and those that are able to submit before the end of the delayed submission window are encouraged to do so.

The FCA has also announced (link to FCA website) that the deadline for FIN-A (annual report and accounts) returns due up to and including 31 July 2021 is extended for two months. This extension applies to the “80 day” deadline for most FCA regulated firms with Part 4A permission, the seven month deadline for non-UK banks, and the six month deadline for the Society of Lloyds and service companies.

The FRC and FCA joint statement is available in full on the FCA website here along with Q&As here.  The updated guidance from the London Stock Exchange is available on the London Stock Exchange website.

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