Restrictions for Reserved and Sensitive Names
A reserved or sensitive word is one whose usage in a company name is subject to special restrictions imposed by Companies House. Such examples are these words are: British, Bank, Chartered, Commission, English, Scottish, Wales, King, Royal and so on.
The principle behind the restrictions on using reserved words is largely to prevent smaller companies from portraying that they some form of government or professional endorsement or accreditation when in fact they are local companies with no privileged status.
On 31 January 2015 new legislation was introduced which declassified several popular words which previously would have required some form of supporting information before they could be used. The most common of these were “Group”, “International” and “Holding(s)”. UK companies can now be registered with names that include these words without additional work.
Justification for using a Sensitive Word
Where a proposed company name does include a sensitive word and the person registering the company believes that they have justification for using it, then they are required to provide evidence to Companies House when submitting their application.
Each reserved word would have its own criteria as to what constitutes evidence. Some evidence may be easier to produce than others. For example, the use of the sensitive word “Solicitor” would simply require an email or letter from the Solicitors Regulatory Authority. This can often be produced quickly provided the applicant is a qualified solicitor and is known to them.
Using the Reserved Word British in a Company Name
For use of the reserved “British” on the other hand, the new company would have to show that they are engaged in an industry or profession and are regarded at the forefront of that field. References collaborating this would have to be obtained from the government or other highly regarding and established bodies. Cases where companies are formed under the current sensitive word rules which incorporate the word British in their name are extremely rare.