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New Regulations regarding company names and trading disclosures

January 2015

If you are thinking of incorporating a new company, changing your company’s name or are part of a group company structure and wish to streamline group company names, you should be aware that new regulations will amend and replace the rules relating to company and LLP names and trading disclosures as of 31st January 2015.

The Company, Limited Liability Partnership and Business (Names and Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2015 and the Company, Limited Liability Partnership, Business Names (Sensitive Words and Expressions) Regulations 2014 come into force on 31st January 2015.

These changes are part of the Government’s stated aim of cutting red tape for companies.

What changes are being made?

The new regulations:

Permit a wider range of characters to be used in company names.

The regulations set out the full list of extended characters that can now be used and whether they can now be used at the beginning of a company name or only within the body of the company name. Permitted new characters include, £, $, and € amongst other things.

Ignore certain words when determining if the name is the “same as” another company.

The regulations reduce the list of words that are to be disregarded when determining if company names are different. Words such as “export”, “group”, “holdings”, “import”, “international” and “services” have all been removed from the “same as” list. This is expected to make it much easier for groups of companies in particular to choose related names, for example, “Simply Limited”, “Simply Group Limited” and “Simply Holdings Limited”.

Reducing the list of sensitive names.

The regulations also reduce the list of sensitive words and expressions which companies, LLPs and businesses need prior approval for in order to use in their names. This includes the removal from the sensitive words list of, “National”, “European”, “International” and “United Kingdom”, amongst other things.

Requirement to display company name at registered office.

Where at least six companies operate from or are registered at one office, place or location, it will no longer be necessary to display the details of all the companies at the site. Instead the information may be held and made available for inspection on request. This will be of particular interest to accountants and solicitors who “host” companies as their registered office. This removes the need to have several name plates or electronic tickers displaying several company names.

In light of the above changes we have updated our Guidance note on How to Form a Private Company Limited by Shares to include reference to these new regulations.

Notwithstanding the above, it is always advisable to seek confirmation from Companies House that the name you are proposing for your company (or LLP) is acceptable and within current regulations. Companies House is in the best position to let you know if your proposed name is acceptable or not.

The contents of this Newsletter are for reference purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific legal matter.

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