The CRO has a number of core functions:
- The incorporation of companies and the registration of business names.
- The receipt and registration of post incorporation documents.
- The enforcement of the Companies Acts in relation to the filing obligations of companies.
- Making information available to the public.
The incorporation of companies and the registration of business names. The CRO is the statutory authority for registering new companies in the Republic of Ireland. The Office also registers business names. A business name is a trading name which differs from the names of the persons or the company who own the business.
The receipt and registration of post incorporation documents. Companies, and to a lesser extent business names, have an obligation under law to file certain documents with the CRO. These documents include details of changes of registered office, changes of company officers (director or secretary), or a number of other changes which affect the company. Companies are also required to file annual returns, and in most cases they must also file annual accounts. The CRO also keeps details of mortgages and charges imposed on companies.
The enforcement of the Companies Acts in relation to the filing obligations of companies. Unfortunately, not all companies comply with their obligations to file documents. The CRO can take a number of measures to deal with companies who fail to file their annual returns, including prosecution of the company or directors, or striking the company off the register.
Companies who fail to file annual returns may be struck off the register of companies. If a company is struck off, the protection of limited liability no longer exists and individuals can be held personally liable for any debts incurred after strike off. Also, the assets of such a company will become the property of the State. While it is usually possible to reinstate companies which have been struck off, this can be an expensive process. Companies wishing to avoid such a fate should ensure that their annual returns are filed on time.
In 2013, 7077 companies were struck off the register for their failure to file annual returns. The programme of enforcement is ongoing.