Investigating Companies: Do-It-Yourself

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Welcome to the online version of Investigating Companies: A Do-It-Yourself Handbook. The more you know about companies that are messing you around, the more effective your challenge against them can be. This handbook is designed to help you find the information you need. The focus is on UK companies but most of the information is relevant to companies wherever they are based. You can order a copy of the print version here.

Use the contents and quick links below to find the bits that are useful to you. The handbook will be regularly updated so please get in touch at the details here to let us know what you have used it for, if you think something has been missed, or if you have suggestions for future editions. We also run workshops and training sessions on looking into companies, including how to read company accounts. Contact us or sign up for our email updates (from the front page) for more details.

All Corporate Watch's publications are free to read online. If you like what you read, please consider making a donation, or becoming a regular subscriber (for £5 or more a month you'll receive all our publications as they come out!).


Part 1: Investigating

1.1 Top Tips

1.2 The web

1.3 Libraries

1.4 Out and about

1.5 Talking to the company

1.6 Staying safe

Part 2: Understanding the company

2.1 Company law

2.2 Types of company

2.3 Ownership and subsidiaries

2.4 Making a profit

2.5 Company financing

2.6 Company accounts

Part 3: Sources

3.1 Companies

3.2 Campaigns, community groups and unions

3.3 Non-corporate media and research

3.4 Mainstream media

3.5 Business-to-business

3.6 Industry bodies

3.7 Government and Parliament

3.8 Public procurement and privatisation

3.9 International institutions

3.10 Freedom of information


Quick links

Who owns the company and how much are they making?

Who runs it and how much are they making?

What does the company own?

How much profit is it making? 

How much cash does it have?

Who does it owe money to?

How much tax is it paying?

How much is it paying its staff?

Where does it do business?

What government or public service contracts does it have?

What links does it have with politicians and civil servants? 

What regulations does it have to follow?

How does it justify its actions?

What legal cases have been brought against it?

Who is taking action against it?