EC wants company law to go electronic

A REFORM of European company law legislation has been formally proposed by the European Commission (EC) to ease the filing of company documents and registrations via electronic communications.
The aim of the tabled changes to the EU's First Company Law Directive, according to an EC statement, is to make company information more easily and rapidly available to the public, while at the same time simplifying disclosure formalities.
These amendments are based on recommendations issued in 1999 by a working group looking at a simplification of legislation on the internal market. The recommendations include:
•A commitment by member states to allow filing of company documents and particulars by electronic means from January 2005. National governments would even be able to insist on electronic filing in certain instances.
•That electronic copies of national company registries should be made public and also that member states could publish national gazettes electronically, replacing hard copy versions if they so choose.
•A clause insisting that details – including registration numbers, legal form and registered office – must currently appear on official paper documents and should appear on electronic communications and websites.
•Companies should be allowed to use any official EU language to make mandatory disclosures of documents, rather than in a language authorised in their home member state, as at present. Voluntary disclosure could be made in any language.