Since September 2011, Companies House has had in place much stricter rules for dealing with mistakes submitted on its forms by those firing off their filings in haste. The Registrar now rejects filings where the name of the company given on the form contains a typographical error or abbreviation. The anniversary of the rule change provides a timely opportunity to discuss how to get a filing accepted first time around.
Companies House is still allowing companies to use a small number of “stipulated” abbreviations. Those submitting forms will be reassured that they can still use "Co" instead of "Company", "&" instead of "and", "Ltd" instead of "Limited", and "Plc" instead of "Public Limited Company". The word "the" can also be dropped, but only at the front of a company's name.
Abbreviations to avoid
In the past, Companies House allowed a little leeway if a company’s name was written slightly incorrectly or contained only a minor variation.
Following introduction of the new rules, those sending forms to Companies House would be advised to steer clear of using common abbreviations, such as "Grp" instead of "Group", "Hldgs" instead of "Holdings", or "Bros" instead of "Brothers".
It is also worth reminding those working in some industries, such as public relations or “PR”, where abbreviations and full spellings of company names are used synonymously, that Companies House is now unlikely to accept forms containing such shortcuts.
Rejection and the risks
The potential consequences of falling foul of the form filing rules are not simply academic.
For example, company directors and the secretary may be prosecuted if an annual return is delivered late as a result of rejection. A conviction would mean a criminal record and a fine, currently up to £5,000 and a £500 daily default fine for continued contravention – quite a costly “typo”.
To read more about the Companies House company names examination policy, please click here.
For more information about Companies House names examination rules or advice on meeting your company’s filing requirements, please contact Matt Ward or your usual Lewis Silkin contact.