What are the consequences of unlawful dividends? Reply


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What are the requirements for a legal dividend?

Companies Act 2006 Section 830 – Distributions to be made only out of profits available for the purpose

(1)A company may only make a distribution out of profits available for the purpose.

(2)A company’s profits available for distribution are its accumulated, realised profits, so far as not previously utilised by distribution or capitalisation, less its accumulated, realised losses, so far as not previously written off in a reduction or reorganisation of capital duly made.

(3)Subsection (2) has effect subject to sections 832 and 835 (investment companies etc: distributions out of accumulated revenue profits).

A distribution must be justified by

  1. The Company’s last published accounts
  2. Interim Accounts
  3. Initial Accounts

In small businesses having the right paperwork is vital should HMRC raise any questions, you will need:

  • Board Minutes
  • Dividend Vouchers

What are illegal dividends?

Companies Act 2006 Section 847 – Consequences of unlawful distribution

(1)This section applies where a distribution, or part of one, made by a company to one of its members is made in contravention of this Part.

(2)If at the time of the distribution the member knows or has reasonable grounds for believing that it is so made, he is liable—

(a)to repay it (or that part of it, as the case may be) to the company, or

(b)in the case of a distribution made otherwise than in cash, to pay the company a sum equal to the value of the distribution (or part) at that time.

(3)This is without prejudice to any obligation imposed apart from this section on a member of a company to repay a distribution unlawfully made to him.

Mistakes can happen..

Mistakes can happen even to large companies like NEXT PLC

Whilst the Company always had sufficient reserves to pay the Relevant Distributions at the time that they were made, the Act required this to be demonstrated by reference to interim accounts filed at Companies House prior to payment. Regrettably, those interim accounts were not filed with Companies House until after the Relevant Distributions had been paid and after the lapse had been identified.  No fines or other penalties have been incurred by the Company.

Section 386 Duty to keep accounting records

(1)Every company must keep adequate accounting records.

(2)Adequate accounting records means records that are sufficient—

(a)to show and explain the company’s transactions,

(b)to disclose with reasonable accuracy, at any time, the financial position of the company at that time, and

(c)to enable the directors to ensure that any accounts required to be prepared comply with the requirements of this Act (and, where applicable, of Article 4 of the IAS Regulation).

(3)Accounting records must, in particular, contain—

(a)entries from day to day of all sums of money received and expended by the company and the matters in respect of which the receipt and expenditure takes place, and

(b)a record of the assets and liabilities of the company.

(4)If the company’s business involves dealing in goods, the accounting records must contain—

(a)statements of stock held by the company at the end of each financial year of the company,

(b)all statements of stocktakings from which any statement of stock as is mentioned in paragraph (a) has been or is to be prepared, and

(c)except in the case of goods sold by way of ordinary retail trade, statements of all goods sold and purchased, showing the goods and the buyers and sellers in sufficient detail to enable all these to be identified.

 

steve@bicknells.net

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