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Online Forms vs. Paper


In the post 1 October 2009 period Companies House have introduced two replacements for the Form 288a as a result of the Companies Act 2006. These Forms AP01 and AP02 facilitate the appointment of natural persons and corporate directors respectively.

The article below remains useful reference and historical information.

Appointment of Company Directors and Secretaries

When considering the appointment of directors and secretaries, there are two options available to complete this task: online or electronic facilities or the more traditional paper Form.

The choice of which method to use will depend on several factors:

Speed of Which the Appointment Must be Made

Using an online appointment facility for a director and secretary appointments are generally quicker than the paper alternative. Submissions online to Companies House can be approved within one hour. Paper Forms can take as long as three weeks to be processed.

The Requirement for a Paper Trail

Electronic appointments do not create a paper trail. They rely on emails to confirm that the request has been submitted, received and then processed. UK Banks have sometimes be known request a paper form even when the directors and secretary have been appointed online.

This can cause delays in a banking application whist the applicant obtained independent confirmation from the UK company formation agents.

Internet Phobia Concerning Online Form

Some members of the public still struggle with the concept of using the internet to carry out important tasks, be it online banking, signing up to a new utility supplier or appointing a director or secretary.

Using a paper Form provides comfort that the task has been completed correctly and a record of the appointment is produced, thereby substantiating the event via a photocopied version.

Internet security and privacy is also a strong concern to many members of the public.

Certainty of Receipt by Companies House

A paper Form which will probably rely on the UK postal systems has the risk of being lost or delayed in the post. In addition, Companies House receives a tonnage of post each day and like any other organisation, is capable of misfiling an individual item.

Online submission relies solely on an internet connection and an active gateway system to Companies House, which would have undergone extensive testing before any live online Form appointments were attempted.

Due to the fast turnover of electronically filed documents, any submission errors which occur should become apparent quite quickly.

Data Integrity Checks for Electronic and Online Filing

A strong advantage of appointing a director and secretary using the online Forms is that the company formation agent or Companies House usually build in data integrity checks which validate the appointment entered. For example, if a person enters numerical data in a field which is programmed to house letters, the filing system can bring this to the user’s attention immediately before an erroneous submission is made.

Most company formation systems are also capable of leading the user by providing a step by step process. The user thus, only sees one part of the form at a time and completes it in small, manageable portions. This can seem less daunting compared to some of the two page paper Forms.

Personal Choice

Whether or not a person uses an online or paper Forms will depend on their individual view of each method and on the view of any professional person who is advising them.

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