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Abolish stupid restrictions on Business Names

Comment 21st August 2010

Did you know that if your name is John Sheffield it is an offence to open a business called "John Sheffield Widgets" without the permission of a self-important dining club in Nick Clegg's constituency? If your name is Windsor you will have similar problems.

Maggie Thatcher sensibly got rid of the redundant Business Names Registration Act, but New Labour snuck in daft new rules through the last Companies Act. These apply to all "businesses" but it is not clear how they are meant to be applied – I am not sure if staff at Companies House have ever had an application from an individual for permission to use his own name, as they act as gatekeepers for the formation of new Companies and LLPs – but if not them, who does police this Law? If no-one, why create an offence?

So my proposal is to drastically prune the list of Sensitive Names and restrict it to those claiming Limit of Liability. As Maggie understood, the Market will sort itself out. Try setting yourself up as Harrods of Blandford (real example) and the Lawyers will crush you instantly.

Why does this matter?

It will be a very little thing to repeal a clause in the Companies Act (so it is easy to do) but if I get my way it can be a signal that this process works. If this gets to be an annual process, Nerds like me can pick away at the Machinery of State and by degrees, hack off the bad bits.


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