BIS Announces Reform of the Company and Business Names Regime

In February 2013 the Government launched ‘The Company & Business Names Consultation’ as part of its ‘Red Tape Challenge’ to reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens relating to company and business names. 

The aim of the business names regulations (The Company and Business Names (Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations 2009 (SI 2009/1085)) is to ensure that every company has a name easily differentiated from another and that their name does not misrepresent their position in the eyes of the general public.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (‘BIS’) has now published its response – it hopes to reduce the process for companies wishing to use a ‘sensitive’ word or expression in their registered name.  BIS has proposed to reduce the list of ‘sensitive’ words and expressions by approximately one-third and reduce the number of words on the ‘same as’ list.

Present legislation prohibits the use of certain ‘sensitive’ words, such as ‘authority’ or ‘council’, in business names.  Before Companies House will register a business name including a ‘sensitive’ word consent from a relevant body or from the Secretary of State must have been obtained.

The current regulations also prevent two companies from having the same, or similar names.  There is a list of words and expressions (for example, ‘UK’ and ‘company’) that must be disregarded when considering whether the proposed name is the ‘same as’ an existing business name.

The Business Minister, Jo Swinson, has said that:

“Making life easier for startup businesses will help to create a stronger economy. Rules on certain types of words shouldn’t be an additional hurdle, so reducing the list of company names needing approval makes sense.”

Draft regulations are expected from BIS in the next few months, which are subject to consultation but it is expected that these changes will come into force next year.

For advice on company and business names or more information on our Business Start-up Services contact the Business Law Team at Forbes.

Nick Pickup

About Nick Pickup

Nick Pickup is a Solicitor within the Corporate and Restructuring team at Forbes Solicitors. Nick’s blogs cover his specialism of work on mergers and acquisitions, business start up’s, joint ventures, shareholder issues, company restructures and general company advice.
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