On 27 February 2013 the UK Government launched a consultation, the ‘Consultation on the Company and Business Names 2013’ (the “2013 Consultation“) to review the list of ‘sensitive’ names that companies must get approval for before they can be used.  Following the 2013 Consultation, the UK Government has decided to relax the rules restricting company names, effective from 31 January 2015.

What changes have been made?

Prior to 31 January 2015, the list of words requiring prior approval was around 150 words long. This list has now been cut by about one third in an attempt to reduce ‘red tape’ and minimise the burden on companies, particularly start-ups.  Words that have been removed from this list include: ‘group’, ‘holding’, ‘international’, ‘United Kingdom’ and ‘services’. This is in addition to an increased list of characters and accents that can be used in a company’s name which the Government hopes will remove an additional and unnecessary hurdle.

Certain words and phrases, however, remain firmly on the list following the changes. These include: ‘accredited’, ‘chamber of’, ‘bank’ and ‘Government’. The words retained on the list are those which are intended to reflect the work a company actually does or, as Jo Swinson, UK Business Minister, comments, would if misused allow companies to “pass themselves off as something they are not”.

Further information on the words retained or removed from the list is available here.


*Not admitted to the practice of law