Electronic company register introduced

On Thursday the lower house of German parliament passed a new law on the introduction of an electronic trade register, cooperative register and company register. According to Brigitte Zypries, German minister of justice, “the new law will lead to a fundamental modernization of the handling of company data subject to disclosure. It will reduce information costs, cut down on bureaucracy, accelerate administrative processes and business startups thereby boosting the innovative potential of the German economy.
Changes in detail:

1. Electronic trade, cooperative and partnership registers

By January 1st 2007 at the latest, trade, cooperative and partership registers will be switched over to electronic operation. They will still be kept at local courts. In order to speed up the register administration in future any documents can only be submitted electronically. However, each Federal State is authorized to introduce transition periods during which documents may still be transmitted in paper form until the end of 2009. In order to ensure legal security there will still be a need for public certification of the application for registration. To speed up the registration process it is planned to introduce the requirement of an “immediate” decision on applications.
Given that the registers in questions will be kept electronically, registrations will henceforward also be published electronically, which will reduce costs and facilitate access also to interested people from abroad. Thus, data will be accessible online to anybody, for instance on www.unternehmensregister.de. There will be a transition period until the end of 2008 in which the register data will in addition be published in a daily newspaper.

2. Disclore of annual accounts

In order to facilitate the publication of year-end financial statements, their acceptance, storage and publication will be taken charge of by the electronic Bundesanzeiger and not by local courts any more. As a consequence, courts will be relieved of administrative work which is not really part of their business, whereas the role of the electronic Bundesanzeiger as a central body for the publication of business data will be strengthened.

3. Electronic company register

From the first of January 2007 all the relevant company data subject to disclosure can be gathered online from www.unternehmensregister.de. Thus, there will be one central internet address under which all the important company data to be published by law will be available online (“one stop shopping”) so that the business world does not have to look for several sources of information in order to get all the important data of a company. GERMAN