On 31st January 2015, new regulations will be introduced which aim to simplify the use of company and business names. Regulation of company and business names requires that each company name be easily distinguishable from another, so as to ensure that the general public is not misled. However, the existing regulations are often complex and overly restrictive and have therefore proved to be a real source of frustration for many companies.

The existing regulations limit the words and expressions that a company can use in its company name. Words and expressions that are deemed to be “sensitive” words (e.g. words that suggest a business pre-eminence, or a particular status, or a specific function), or that are deemed to be the “same as” another name appearing on the registrar’s index of company names, can’t be used without obtaining express consent from Companies House.

As part of the Government’s commitment under the Red Tape Challenge to reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens, a number of the existing regulations will be reduced and/or replaced on 31st January 2015 by the new regulations. The following changes will be made (subject to some of them receiving parliamentary approval):

1. The list of sensitive words and expressions shall be reduced. This list sets out the words that companies, LLPs and businesses need approval for, in order to use in their name. Twenty six words have been deleted from the list, including “Group”, “National”, “Holdings”, “International” and “United Kingdom”.
2. The list of characters that can be used in a company’s name has been extended.
3. The list of “same as” words will be reduced. These are words that are disregarded by Companies House when considering whether a company name is the “same as” another company name. Words that have been deleted from the list include “Group”, “Export”, “Holdings” and “International”.
4. Where at least six companies operate from or are registered at one office, place or location it will no longer be necessary to display the details of all companies at the site. Instead, the information may be held and made available for inspection on request.

The news is likely to be welcomed by business owners and those wanting to start up a new business as they will be afforded greater flexibility in choosing their business name.

If you would like to discuss how any of these changes might affect you and your business, or indeed need any legal advice on setting up a business, please do not hesitate to contact our team of business solicitors on 0845 050 1958 or alternatively you can email us.