What’s in a name? The Company Name Regulations

October 13, 2015

It is important to take care when choosing a company name as there are regulations that govern the choices available when incorporating a company or changing its name. Recently though the government has attempted to simplify such regulations in an effort to reduce the administrative burdens on companies.

These new regulations will amend the rules regarding permitted company names and trading disclosures requirements, including reducing the number of words that require Secretary of State approval before being included in a company name and removing the need for multiple company names to be displayed at the registered office.

The Company, Limited Liability Partnership and Business Names (Sensitive Words and Expressions) Regulations 2014 (the “2014 Regulations”) and the Company, Limited Liability Partnership and Business (Names and Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2015 (the “2015 Regulations”) both came into force in January 2015.

Certain names are not prohibited but require the prior approval of the Secretary of State, and, where applicable, other relevant authorities. These are known as sensitive words and expressions and are listed in Schedules 1 & 2 of the 2014 Regulations. Under the new regulations 26 words can now be used in company names without having to obtain approval from the relevant government department or body. Words which no longer require approval include United Kingdom, National, Group, Holding, Authority, European and International, as well as the plural and possessive forms of these words.

The new regulations also extend the list of characters that may be used in company names, including those from other alphabets. A full list of available characters can be found in Schedule 1 of the 2015 Regulations. This has also had the knock on effect of extending the list of permitted characters which are to be treated the same as certain characters.

Pursuant to section 66 of the Companies Act 2006 a company cannot be registered with the same name as an existing company on the register at Companies House. Schedule 3 of the 2015 Regulations provides a list of words that are to be disregarded when determining if company names are different. The number of words on the “same as” list of words to be disregarded has been reduced by six to a total of 31 words under the new regulations. The words which have been removed from this list are: Export, Group, Holdings, Imports, International and Services. This should help to reduce the difficulties encountered by group companies when choosing names.

The new regulations assist companies by simplifying the naming process and by making the requirements less onerous. In particular, the removal of “Group” and “Holdings” from the lists of words requiring prior approval and to be disregarded in the “same as” determinations should make it easier for groups of companies to choose and register company names.

Although the new regulations will assist companies it is still prudent to seek legal advice when choosing a company name. Should you require any advice in relation to incorporating a company or changing the name of an existing company please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Corporate Team at Cleaver Fulton Rankin.

Please note; the content of this article is for information purposes only and further advice should be sought from a professional legal advisor before any action is taken.

Please contact Cleaver Fulton Rankin on 028 9024 3141 or alternatively visit www.cfrlaw.co.uk