2008 - A Year of Change
2008 was a year of dramatic change for Guernsey Registry. Company formation and administration had been unchanged on the Island for 125 years. With a new law (the Companies (Guernsey) Law 2008) and a brand new Registry, the service offered to local businesses, the finance sector and international clients is now at the cutting edge, using the latest web-based technology.
Since 1883, company formation has been carried out by local advocates through the Royal Court. In recent years the Guernsey Financial Services Commission has also been involved in the process. Companies have been registered by a small company registry team based in the judicial Greffe. The process has been entirely paper-based, and as a result both expensive and time-consuming. It could take up to two weeks for the whole formation process to be completed. Thereafter any changes to the information had to be submitted in paper format.
Guernsey has a history of providing innovative, business friendly, commercial laws such as its Protected Cell Company legislation which was a world first. Continuing that tradition of innovation, the Island has completely revised its Companies law to enable the Island to provide a 21st century company registry and a flexible and modern system of company administration. The new law establishes an administrative companies registry under the auspices of the appointment of an independent Registrar of Companies. In addition to the new law, investment has been made in the highest quality front and back office systems and in new modern premises.
As a result, since 1 July 2008, companies have been incorporated in less than 24 hours, with 2 hour incorporations possible. From October 2008, 15 minute incorporations have been available for certain types of company, which sets a world class benchmark. It is, in effect, quicker and less expensive to incorporate a Guernsey company than in any competitor jurisdiction.
On-line searches and on-line filing submissions are now the norm. Statements of the Register (the equivalent of a certificate of incumbency) are available cheaply on-line, as are scans of physical documents and other Registry certificates. Directors, who are issued with electronic signatures, will be notified automatically of all events at the Registry which affect their company. The cumbersome annual returns process has been replaced by an annual validation whereby companies simply validate the information held on them at the Registry once a year.
There are many other innovative services available. Companies can be pre-incorporated to start on a certain date; company names can be reserved for three months; voluntary strike-offs are possible, allowing dormant companies to be removed from the register by the Directors at no cost.
Despite the use of technology and the provision of on-line services, the Guernsey Registry believes absolutely that the quality of individual customer service is of paramount importance. The project to establish the new Registry has, therefore, worked intensely to ensure that high-calibre staff are employed by the Registry in order to deliver the level of service the Registry aspires to.