By any other name: mistaken identity

By Alexander Kingston-Splatt

In the case of Derek Hodd Limited v Climate Change Capital Limited the High Court has delivered a significant judgment that may assist those who fall victim to the consequences of mistaken identity.

It is common for businesses to use trading names which bear little or no resemblance to the names of the legal entities that sit behind them. This is especially true of enterprises trading through the vehicle of a limited company. It is equally common for larger businesses to operate their activities through more than one company, often for reasons of risk management.

This presents no problem in practice until the trading name, an erroneous version of the entity’s true name or the name of one of its sister concerns makes its way into a legal document in place of the true name of the correct entity. This can have dire consequences: if uncertainty exists as to the correct parties to an agreement, there may in fact be no binding agreement at all…

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