Companies to be liberated from "sensitive" names

Business minister Jo Swinson has announced today that the number of 'sensitive' names business-startups need to get approval for before setting up, is to be slashed. Companies House, the UK registrar of companies, classes some words as "sensitive" and therefore cannot form or change the name of a company if it contains one of these "sensitive" words. Some words can be accepted if a letter of justification is submitted.


In a not so stunning display of deregulatory zeal, businesses that wish to use words such as 'Authority', 'Board' or 'European' in their title will no longer have to submit themselves to the approval of Companies House.

Businesses wishing to describe themselves with that most specific and often confusing of words, 'group' will also no longer need the approval of a government agency. This follows a consultation on the Company and Business Names regime. There are currently over 150 names on the "sensitive list".

Many words are to be retained in case they cause confusion as to what the actual business is. Words to be retained included 'Bank', 'Charity' and 'Institute'. To the relief of many, the word 'Sheffield' is to be retained to insure against the ever present danger of non-Sheffield companies deceitfully using the cities name. To the relief of startups across the nation 'Sheffield' will remain on the list after respondents to the consultation showed support to keep it.

The new measures are to ensure that businesses wanting to use a 'sensitive' word or expression in their registered name will have a quicker process.


Business minister Jo Swinson said:

Making life easier for startup businesses will help to create a stronger economy. Rules on certain types of words shouldn’t be an additional hurdle, so reducing the list of company names needing approval makes sense.

However, we also need to make sure that businesses can’t pass themselves off as something they’re not. We have struck a balance which reduces the regulations on new businesses, but that also keeps historic and sensitive names rightfully on the list.

The cut in red-tape is no doubt welcome but is hardly the "bonfire of red tape" promised by business minister Michael Fallon.