Company and business names regulations to be simplified

On 4 October 2013 the Department for Business Innovation & Skills published the Government’s response to the Company and Business Names consultation which was launched on 27 February 2013 as part of the Red Tape Challenge to reduce unnecessary regulatory burden.

22nd October 2013

On 4 October 2013 the Department for Business Innovation & Skills published the Government’s response to the Company and Business Names consultation which was launched on 27 February 2013 as part of the Red Tape Challenge to reduce unnecessary regulatory burden.

Current regulation in company and business names aims to ensure that no company has the same name as another and that the name does not misrepresent the company’s position in the eyes of the general public by falsely implying authority, status or pre-eminence.

The consultation sought views on the current regulations, whether such regulations are still considered to be necessary and, if so, whether they could be improved or simplified. The Government received over 250 responses, most of whom agreed that regulation in this area is necessary and should be retained; however they felt there was scope for simplification.

“Sensitive” words

The current list of “sensitive” words consists of certain words and expressions that might mislead the public into thinking that the company or business has some special authority or status or that it undertakes some particular business activities.

The Government plans to remove around a third of the words on the list of sensitive words, including: Authority, European, Group, Holding, International, National, Registered and United Kingdom, along with the Welsh and Gaelic equivalents.

The Government also states there will be administrative improvements at Companies House which should speed up the process of obtaining approval to use a sensitive word.

“Same as” names

The current “same as” regulations set out all the words, expressions, signs and symbols, which are to be disregarded when considering whether a proposed business name is the same as one that already exists. These commonly create issues in relation to company start-ups and group restructurings.

The Government will reduce the number of words on this list, including: Exports, Group, Holdings, Imports, International and Services, along with the Welsh and Gaelic equivalents.

Next steps

The Government will merge the four existing Names and Trading Disclosure Statutory Instruments so that the requirements can be found together. It will also draft new regulations in the coming months and make them available for comment on the www.gov.uk website.

To view the consultation and Government response click here:

Company and business names consultation Feb 2013

Government response - Company and business names - Oct 2013