New company names regulations

If you are thinking of setting up a new company or LLP or simply changing the name of your existing business, you should be aware that new regulations relating to sensitive words in business names will be coming into force on 31 January 2015.  The Company, Limited Liability and Business Names (Sensitive Words and Expressions) Regulations 2014 will replace similar regulations from 2009.

Companies House guidelines for registration state that the following should not be used:

  • any names that suggest a connection with Her Majesty’s Government, a devolved government or a specified public authority;
  • names that include “sensitive” words and expressions;
  • names that include words that would constitute an offence ; or
  • offensive names.

Most of the sensitive names set out in the new Regulations seem to fall within the first two categories, including terms such as “accredited”, “assurance”, “bank”, “British”, “charity”, “chartered”, “government”, “institution”, “insurance”, “mutual”, “parliamentary”, “police”, “queen”, “royal”, “Scottish”, “University” and “Welsh”.

Unusually for modern legislation, however, the list is actually shorter than it used to be with “abortion”, “disciplinary”, “European”, “group”, “holding”, “human rights”, “national”, “international”, “oversight”, “register” and “United Kingdom” no longer needing to be approved before use.

If you want further advice on naming your business or on setting it up, please contact one of our company and commercial solicitors.

Russell Osman