Note – the following information relates to the investigation of companies that are actively trading, or which have ceased trading without entering into insolvency proceedings, using powers of investigation under the Companies Acts. For information on investigations into companies which have entered into formal solvency proceedings see our pages on Insolvent Companies.
The Companies Acts
Most of our investigations are carried out under section 447 of the Companies Act 1985.
This enables the Secretary of State, if he/she considers that there is good reason, to require a company to produce documents and information to an appointed investigator.
Investigators can also be authorised to enter and remain on premises which they believe are used wholly or partly for the purpose of the company’s business. (There are certain rights and obligations which will be explained by the investigators if this power is exercised).
If a company’s management refuses to co-operate with investigators, or there is a risk of documents being destroyed, we can ask a magistrate for a search warrant. The police and investigators can then search premises on which there may be company documents and seize them.
Investigators can also ask any person involved with a company, now or in the past, or any third party, to provide documents, explanations of the documents, or any other information about the company. These questions can be wide-ranging. Those being asked the questions are obliged by law to provide an answer.
A lack of co-operation can be treated as a contempt of court and will also be taken into account when we consider what further action may be required against the company and its officers.
To access the legislation please visit www.legislation.gov.uk