On 25 March 2020, the LSE published Market Notice N07/20 which provides issuers with guidance in relation to payment dates under the 2020 Dividend Procedure timetable. This was in response to market conditions and enquiries from issuers and their advisers regarding deferral or cancellation of their dividend payments due to COVID-19.
The Dividend Procedure timetable is published by the LSE on an annual basis as a guide for companies with shares listed on the Official List or admitted to trading on AIM on setting their dividend programmes (both interim and final). The timetable sets out, in relation to each, a series of ex-dividend dates, its associated record date and the corresponding latest announcement date.
Pursuant to the Dividend Procedure timetable, issuers should pay cash dividends within 30 days of the record date. However, from 25 March 2020, the LSE will permit a deferral period of up to 30 business days for payment of a dividend, but no more than 60 days after the record date.
An issuer must notify the LSE of any deferral of a dividend payment without delay. After the deferral period has expired, the dividend must be paid or otherwise cancelled.
The guidance will remain in force until further notice.
On 25 March 2020, Companies House published a press release announcing that companies would have an additional 3 months to file accounts in the light of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Companies still have to apply for the 3-month extension, which they can do from 25 March, but those citing COVID-19 issues or "health" matters for reasons for the delay will be automatically and immediately granted an extension. Applications can be made through a fast-tracked online system which takes 15 minutes to complete.
Companies that have already extended their filing deadline, or shortened their accounting reference period, may be ineligible for an extension.
This update has been added to Companies House's coronavirus guidance for its customers, employees and suppliers, and also Companies House general guidance on applying for more time to file your company's accounts.