Company Name Regime simplified following the Red Tape Challenge

New Regulations will come into force with effect from tomorrow (31 January 2015) the intent of which is to simplify the rules governing what companies and limited liability partnerships can call themselves, and also streamline certain trading disclosures which companies have to make.  The Regulations have come out of the UK Government "Companies and Business Names: Red Tap Challenge" consultation carried out during 2014.

Simplification of the regimes will be effected by consolidating the existing rules (which are spread over six different sets of Regulations) into two new Regulations, one of which covers business names and trading disclosures, the other relating to sensitive words and expressions allowed to be used in a business name.

Effect of the new Regulations

The main differences between the company name and trading disclosure regimes pre January 31 and post January 31 2015 are as follows:

Fewer names to be classed as same as others - the list of names currently considered to be the same as others will be reduced by removal of "export", "group", "holdings", "imports", "international" and "services" from the list.  Therefore as an example whereas currently the names "Glanford Holdings Limited" and "Glanford Group Limited" would be classed as being the same names,  after 31 January this will not be the case.

Extended list of "permitted characters" - under the current regime only Roman alphabet letters and a small number of additional characters are allowed to be used within a company name; the new regime will allow a greater range of signs, symbols and punctuation to be used (including accents and other diacritical marks).

Reduction in sensitive words and expressions - the current list of "sensitive" (i.e. not generally permitted) words will be reduced - examples of words which are currently sensitive which will cease to be so under the under the new Regulations are European, human rights, international, abortion, United Kingdom, registration, national, international, group, holding and discipline.  Clearly this will give greater freedom for companies to choose a name they wish.

Trading disclosures - where more than five companies share the same office, place or location it will no longer be required for the names of all those companies to be on constant display.  Instead they can be shown in rotation, or simply be held on a register which is available for inspection.

Posted on: 30/01/2015

This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.

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