Our opinion on the legal world, and how it could affect you

The Rules relating to the availability of Company names

26th Mar 2015

The Rules relating to the availability of Company names changed on January 31st 2015, when two new Statutory Instruments came into force – did you know?


The full titles of these not to be missed literary masterpieces are

  • The Company, Limited Liability Partnership and Business Names (Sensitive Words and Expressions) Regulations 2014 and 
  • The Company, Limited Liability Partnership and Business (Names and Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2014 

Both came into force on January 31st this year. So what I hear you say!

Mike Kirkham of the Commercial Department at Brown Turner Ross explains: 

One of the main changes is that fewer words are now disregarded for the purposes of deciding whether one name is the ‘same as’ another on the Register to allow more choice and make name swaps within Groups of Companies easier - the words (and their Welsh equivalents).

Some words no longer considered to be sensitive expressions include

  • Group
  • Holding
  • International
  • National
  • and United Kingdom

and some words such as 

  • Export
  • Group
  • Holdings
  • Imports
  • International
  • and Services 

have been removed from the Schedule of "same as" words. This means they are now treated as a difference in judging whether two names are "the same as" each other.

This means your business now has the chance to secure some Company names which might have previously have been unavailable to you, without having to meet the requirements to justify use of a sensitive expression and without having to seek confirmation from an existing Company that they did not object to its use by you.

If your Company already benefits from the protection provided by the "same as" legislation you should also consider registering further dormant Companies purely for the purposes of protecting their Company names.

Another thing you might consider doing is to register a Company name to form part of your Group, or even just as a "placeholder" – something that might not previously have been an option.  

If you are concerned about what another Company has done in registering a name too similar to your own you will still have the right to object to Companies House if you feel that the newly registered Company name is too similar to your own.

There have also been updates to the list of permitted characters, signs, symbols and punctuation to include accents and other diacritical marks.

Amendments to the list of expressions to be disregarded for the purposes of ‘same as’ (including their Welsh equivalents) are:

  • ‘& Co’
  • ‘& Company’
  • ‘and Co’
  • ‘and Company’

The list of words and expressions now disregarded includes where they are used with brackets, meaning a name which was previously not the ‘same as’ because of the inclusion of brackets is now treated as ‘same as’.

 The key issue for you to consider is what you have done to protect your Company name(s) and then look at the benefits of registering a new and desirable Company name before your competitors do!

For advice on the issues covered in this Blog or in relation to any Company & Commercial issues call Mike on 0800 195 7517