Relaxing the regime on company names

Have you ever chosen the perfect name for a company, only to be told you cannot have it? Company names legislation is under review as part of the Red Tape Challenge — the government’s commitment to reduce unnecessary regulatory burden. In its consultation document, the government is seeking views on proposals to reduce restrictions on company names, which are widely seen as the cause of confusion and delay in the registration process.

The rationale for the current system of regulation is to protect members of the public from harm caused by names which mislead or confuse. Amongst the protection afforded by legislation is the system of “sensitive” words and the “same as” rules.

Current legislation includes a list of “sensitive” words - such as “Association” and “Board” - which require prior approval by the Secretary of State. A company must meet certain conditions for their use. One option set out in the consultation is to remove this rather long list altogether. Approval would no longer be required, provided the words used were not offensive, did not suggest a connection with government, and were not the same as a company name already in use…

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