Hewitt to announce radical legal shake-up

Hewitt’s statements will come as the independent Review Group publishes its final report after a three-year consultation process which ended in November last year.

Expected to be included is a shortening of filing deadlines for both small and large companies.

Small companies are expected to see their deadlines cut to seven months. Proposals for shortening filing times for larger listed companies have settled on a deadline of between four and five months. This, however, is still a bone of contention among company executives and their accountants.

Provisions for online filing of company accounts as well as paper version are also expected to figure in the Review’s recommendations.

And there is an anxious wait to see whether a further hike in the audit threshold is announced. Stephen Byers, minister for transport and the regions and former trade secretary, raised the exemption limit for companies needing a statutory audit to £1m. It is possible Hewitt will raise it to the European maximum of £4.8m. An independent professional review, or IPR, may replace the audit as a form of light-weight assurance.

On a corporate governance level, little is expected to radically change. It is hoped that directors’ duties will be clearly laid out and the rights of the disempowered smaller shareholders improved.

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