Companies and business names rules are changing

The UK government recently conducted a so-called red tape challenge which it published on 4 October 2013. The consultation sought views on the future of names regulations in general and invited comments on the options for improving and simplifying them. It considered the need to maintain the current regulations which, primarily, set out rules regarding ‘same as’ names and ‘sensitive’ words and expressions.

The regulations came into force on 31 January 2015 and the regulations concerned are:

  • The Company, Limited Liability Partnership and Business (Sensitive Words and Expressions) Regulations 2014
  • The Company, Limited Liability Partnership and Business (Names and Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2014

The main changes are as follows:

  • Fewer words are now disregarded for the purposes of deciding whether one name is the ‘same as’ another on the register to allow more choice and make name swaps within groups of companies easier – the words (and their Welsh equivalents) to be removed include:
  • exports
  • group
  • holdings
  • imports
  • international
  • services
  • Updates to the list of permitted characters, signs, symbols and punctuation to include accents and other diacritical marks.
  • Amendments to the list of expressions to be disregarded for the purposes of ‘same as’ (including their Welsh equivalents) are:
  • ‘& Co’
  • ‘& Company’
  • ‘and Co’
  • ‘and Company’
  • The list of words and expressions now disregarded includes where they are used with brackets, meaning a name which was previously not the ‘same as’ because of the inclusion of brackets is now treated as ‘same as’.
  • Widening of the ‘same as’ consent provision now makes it easier for companies in the same group to grant permission to register a proposed name.
  • Amendments to trading disclosure requirements now means that any company located in an office or other location occupied by 6 or more companies may make its registered name available for inspection on a register.
  • There a fewer ‘sensitive’ words and expressions. The list (and where applicable Welsh and Gaelic equivalents) no longer includes:
  • abortion
  • authority
  • banknote
  • board
  • data protection
  • disciplinary
  • discipline
  • European
  • giro
  • group
  • holding
  • human rights
  • international
  • national
  • oversight
  • pregnancy termination
  • register
  • registered
  • registration
  • registry
  • regulation
  • rule committee
  • United Kingdom
  • watchdog