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Companies Act 2006


3.The UK was one of the first nations to establish rules for the operation of companies. Today our system of company law and corporate governance, setting out the legal basis on which companies are formed and run, is a vital part of the legal framework within which business is conducted. As the business environment evolves, there is a risk that the legal framework can become gradually divorced from the needs of companies, in particular the needs of smaller private businesses, creating obstacles to ways that companies want and need to operate.

4.In March 1998, the DTI commissioned a fundamental review of company law. An independent Steering Group led the “Company Law Review” (CLR) whose terms of reference required them to consider how core company law could be modernised in order to provide a simple, efficient and cost effective framework for British business in the twenty-first century. After extensive consultation with interested parties, the CLR presented its Final Report to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on 26 July 2001. The report contained a range of recommendations for substantive changes to many areas of company law, and a set of principles to guide the development of the law more generally, most notably that it should be as simple and as accessible as possible for smaller firms and their advisers and should avoid imposing unnecessary burdens on the ways companies operate.

5.Many of the provisions of the Act implement CLR recommendations. The Government set out and consulted on its intentions in this regard in the White Papers “Modernising Company Law” (July 2002) and “Company Law Reform” (March 2005). The 2005 White Paper included approximately 300 draft clauses and described in detail the policy intention for other areas. Further clauses were made publicly available for comment in July, September and October 2005. The Companies Bill, then titled the Company Law Reform Bill, was introduced to the House of Lords on 4 November 2005.

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