Companies House uses new powers to challenge and change company names

19 June 2024 / Insight posted in Article

Under the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act 2023, Companies House has been given greater controls over company names to help deal with the misuse of company names.

Finding the right name for your company can be challenging. For many businesses, an important key to securing their business name is to register their company (or LLP) name with Companies House.

Companies House is now running stronger checks on company names which might give a false or misleading impression to members of the public.

Companies House can refuse to register a company name

Under the new rules, Companies House can also refuse to register a company name if they believe:

  • it is intended to facilitate fraud;
  • the name contains computer code;
  • the name gives the false impression that the company is connected to a foreign government or certain international organisations.

Existing controls

The new checks are in addition to Companies House’s existing controls stipulating that:

  • names cannot be the same or too similar to another registered company’s name;
  • some words and expressions require permission or additional evidence before they can be used, such as “accredited”, “King”, “Police”, “Regulator” and “NHS”;
  • a company name cannot be offensive.

Companies House can change a company name

Companies House can also now require companies to change their name. If a company fails to do so within 28 days, Companies House can pick a new name for the company. For example, they might change the name to its registered company number.

If a company fails to respond to a direction from Companies House to change its name, an offence is committed by the company and its directors. It is also an offence to continue using a company name that Companies House has directed must be changed.

Additionally, check that your proposed name does not infringe on an existing trademark or brand and consider applying to register your own trademark(s).

Contact your usual Moore Kingston Smith if you would like any more information.

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