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Company name display rules change

The law on companies' display of names at their premises will change in three weeks' time. From 1st October companies will have to display their registered name anywhere they do business, but will no longer have to put it on the outside of buildings.

Parts of the Companies Act come into force at the start of October. While many of the new laws cover existing ground without any changes there are some changes to the rules on the display of company names.

The new rules say that a company's name must be displayed continuously in a way that is visible to the naked eye in a way that it "may be easily seen by any visitor to that office, place or location", according to the Companies (Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2008.

An exception in the rules provides that the company's name does not have to be displayed at a location which is primarily used for living accommodation.

Where one location is shared by six companies or more, a company can display its name in a non-continuous way. Those firms could use electronic displays rotating the display of the names, but the manner in which that can happen is tightly controlled.

"The registered name shall be displayed continuously but where any such office, place or location is shared by six or more companies, each such company is only required to display its registered name for at least fifteen continuous seconds at least once in every three minutes," said the Regulations.

It is only possible to fit 12 periods of 15 seconds into a three minute slot, so any shared buildings with more than 12 companies would have to have a second rotating display.

The Regulations dictate how a company must display its name:

"Any display or disclosure of information required by these Regulations must be in characters that can be read with the naked eye. […] The registered name shall be so positioned that it may be easily seen by any visitor to that office, place or location".

A company will be required to display its registered name at its registered office, unless it has been dormant since incorporation; and also at any 'inspection place'. The latter requirement means that places where records are stored by a company must be identified.

"'Inspection place' means any location, other than a company’s registered office, at which a company keeps available for inspection any company record which it is required under the Companies Acts to keep available for inspection," said the Regulations.

The requirements of the 1985 Companies Act which these parts of the Regulations replace were slightly different. They demanded that companies display their registered names "on the outside of every office or place in which its business is carried on, in a conspicuous position an din letters easily legible".

The new Regulations no longer require that the name be displayed on the outside of a building.

The Regulations also spell out the requirement for companies to display their registered name and other details on websites, business letters and emails and in certain other company documentation. The Regulations replace 2006 Regulations which required the same thing.