Changes to rules for Company and Business Names

Changes to rules for Company and Business Names

From: Paul Moulding

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Outcome of the Red Tape Challenge consultation on company and business names.

The UK government response to the Company and Business Names: Red Tape Challenge consultation was 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.

When the changes apply

The regulations came into force on 31 January 2015.

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

Main changes

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

Explanation from York Place Company News

Radical changes to the company name rules come into force on 31 January 2015

There are quite radical changes in the two main areas that have, up till now, made it difficult to register certain names.

  1. Sensitive words

It has traditionally been held that the use of certain words in company names needs to be controlled to prevent a company effectively claiming itself to be something it’s not. Today’s list includes words such as  “National”, “International, “European”, “Group”, “Holdings” and many more. To be successful with one of the listed words, you currently need to supply some sort of evidence. As at today if you want to form a company with ‘group’ in the title, you have to supply the details of two associated companies. For “holdings” you have to name at least one subsidiary company. For ‘national’ you need to prove pre-eminence in your field.

Whilst the general principal is being retained, certain words are being dropped. From next Monday, “Group”, “Holdings”, “National”, “International”, “European”, “United Kingdom”, amongst others, will be not subject to any test. “National” and “International” have always been quite difficult to get through but from next week it will be a lot easier.

Likewise there will be a lot more ‘holding’ and ‘group’ companies in the future.

  1. “Same as” names

The rules on “same as” names had a shake-up in 2009 when several extra phrases and words were thrown into the ‘disregarded’ mix and some things, whether by accident or design, were omitted. Under the new rules, we will revert to the pre-2009 system whereby “and Company” was ignored when considering name identicality. Similarly, you will no longer be able to put brackets around a word to circumvent the system. The good news however is that most of the controversial words are no longer being disregarded, ie Exports, Group, Holdings, Imports, International and Services.

From 31 January 2015  we can look forward to a little less paperwork during the incorporation process but there will soon be a lot more companies out there who may not be quite what you expect.

Although the rules are being simplified somewhat, there are still pitfalls that need to be avoided. Please contact us for help and advice.



Family business case study – James Alpe

Accident repairs specialists James Alpe Limited has grown to employ more than 70 people and turn over £6million a year.

20130909 James Alpe Limited logo

Founder James Alpe gave his name to the business 30 years ago after he began repairing cars on his father’s farm, ultimately purchasing the existing site at Lincoln Way on the Salthill Industrial Estate in Clitheroe.

It now fills 60,000 sq ft of workshop premises, focusing on the repair of specialist and unusual vehicles and running an in-house conversions company, vehicle livery company and a car and van hire business.

Business is booming, with recent landmarks including gaining the British Kitemark Accreditation, and being picked as finalists in the Bodyshop of the Year Award four years running and winner in 2011. Most recently, a high profile contract was won to convert nine Minis for drinks manufacturer Red Bull.

The business has sought advice from Pierce on a range of issues from compliance to tax returns, statutory annual requirements and personal and company tax planning, as well as corporate structure.

Now falling repair work, rising costs and high referral fees has meant the company has had to bring in new business in large volumes, with many such businesses closing as a result.

James is the only member of the Alpe family involved in running the business from day-to-day, and admits he has struggled to obtain the right work/life balance.

To ensure the smooth running of his company, James has made sure he has the right management team in place, something which has paid dividends and allowed him to spend time with his family.

He revealed: “The business runs smoothly and efficiently in my absence and I feel comfortable knowing the right management team is in place.”

James reveals the key to his success has been managing cash flow. He added: “Having the right accountants in addition to having a strong management team supporting all our key business areas is also vital.

“Diversification has been a significant factor in our success, constantly looking at new business opportunities along with a strong marketing/business development emphasis.

“Being bold, not being afraid to make big decisions, investing in new technology on an on-going basis, diversification and having a team that can be trusted: that’s how you create a successful business that will survive.”

Graham Boyes of Pierce added: “James Alpe is a true study of the great British Entrepreneurial spirit, grasping opportunities as they come along and building upon them in an intuitive and imaginative manner.

“To grow a business one step at a time ensuring quality and customer satisfaction at all times whilst caring for your team is the perfect goal for any businessperson, to have achieved this goal with such style is one of Lancashire’s real success stories.

“We are proud to serve James Alpe and his great team.”