Companies House to relax prescribed names regime

Measures have been announced to cut the list of ‘sensitive’ names for which startup companies must get approval.

For instance, companies wanting to use words such as ‘Authority’, ‘Board’, ‘European’, ‘Group’, ‘International’ and ‘National’ in their names will no longer have to get prior approval from Companies House.

Companies House currently receives about 30,000 applications to incorporate per month. Around 4,800 of these contain prescribed words and approximately 70% are ultimately accepted. A  company name can be rejected if it is offensive, or suggests a connection with government or a local authority. No business may be carried on in the UK under a name which  gives so misleading an indication of its activities as to be likely to cause harm to the public.

The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)  consulted on the Company and Business Names regime earlier this  year. Following the consultation, measures have been announced to  cut the list of ‘sensitive’ names for which start-up businesses  must get approval. There are currently over 150 words and expressions on the  ‘sensitive’ list, which will now be reduced by a third. The  words and expressions to be retained on the list are those which,  when misused, are likely to cause confusion over what the  business does or has the legal authority to do. These words, among others, include ‘Accredited’,  ‘Bank’, ‘Chamber of’, ‘Charity’, ‘Institute’,  ‘Government’ and ‘University.’ The same applies to  national words such as ‘English’, ‘Scottish, ‘Northern  Irish’, ‘Welsh’ and ‘Cymru’.

The changes will come into force in 2014.

Please contact our company & commercial team for further information and advice –