Groups representing sufferers of asbestos related diseases have welcomed reassurances given on behalf of the Government that proposals to destroy records of dissolved companies have been abandoned.
The Guardian reported in August that Companies House was planning to destroy the records of companies that had been dissolved for longer than 6 years, overturning their current policy of retaining records for at least 20 years.
This would have been disastrous for asbesos victims seeking compensation for their negligent workplace exposure to asbestos. Asbestos diseases take decades to develop, sometimes for as long as 60 years. Because of this, the negligent employer has usually gone out of business by the time a disease develops. Access to Companies House records on dissolved companies is therefore crucial for victims trying to secure justice.
Responding to Parliamentary questions, Margot James MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), confirmed that not only will there be no reduction in the length of time Companies House will retain these records, but that there would now be no destruction of any records currently held unless there is an agreed change of policy. She confirmed there would be no change in this policy without a full public consultation.