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What’s in a name? – An update

Print publication

01/11/2013

A reminder of the current law
Business and company names are regulated to make sure that misleading names, which may imply unwarranted status or authority, cannot be used. The legislation also places restrictions on the registration of “sensitive” words and names which are the “same as” existing names. These mechanisms are felt by many to be lacking in transparency and it has been suggested that the restrictions place a disproportionate burden on the commercial freedom of many businesses.

The questions
The consultation asked three questions:

  • Do you think all regulations relating to names should be repealed? Alternatively, do you think regulations relating to names should be retained but reduced and simplified?
  • Do you think the list of “sensitive” words should be reduced? If so, which words would you recommend for removal and why?
  • Do you think the list of words on the “same as” list should be reduced? If so, which words would you recommend for removal?

Having taken soundings, the Government published its responses to the consultation on 4 October. These are to:

  • move forward with proposals to merge the company and business names regulations with the trading disclosures regulations
    clarify the trading disclosures regulations so that they are easier to follow
  • reduce the list of “sensitive” words and expressions by approximately one-third. Words that will no longer be “sensitive” include “European”, “Holding”, “International”, “National”, “Registered” and “United Kingdom”. Words that will continue to be “sensitive” include “Accredited”, “Charity”, “Co-operation”, “Licensing”, “Mutual” and “Society”
  • retain “national” words (e.g.”English”, “Cymru”) in the list of sensitive words
  • retain the number of words on the “same as” list.

WM Comment
The reforms, while modest, are to be welcomed. Whilst there is clearly a need for regulation in this area, some simplification was overdue. The Government anticipates publishing draft regulations in the next few months.

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