Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill: Company names
This article forms part of a series looking at the measures to be introduced by the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill (“the Bill”), which intends to deliver a suite of wider-ranging reforms to tackle economic crime and improve transparency over corporate entities.
This article focusses on proposed changes to the powers of the Registrar of Companies (“the Registrar”) in relation to company names.
What is proposed?
Currently, the Secretary of State can only direct a company to change its name where it is too similar to an existing name, where misleading information has been given for the purposes of registering a name, or where the name gives an obviously misleading indication of the nature of its activities.
Through the Bill, the government is proposing to expand the controls over company names with a view to improving the integrity of the register and increasing trust in the UK business environment.
New powers and scope
The range of circumstances where use of a company name can be prohibited will be expanded. The Registrar will be able to reject the incorporation application of a company where, in the Secretary of State’s view:
- the name could be used to facilitate certain crimes; or
- the name suggests a non-existent connection with a foreign government or an international institution.
Specifically, to protect other users of the company register, the Registrar will have the power to reject names which comprise or contain a computer code.
The new powers will extend to company names already on the Register.