Important Changes to Company Name Tribunal Actions

On 4 March 2024, the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act 2023 brought several significant changes to Company Name Tribunal (CNT) actions.

For an overview on bringing and defending a Company Names Tribunal Action, see our related article.

Use of company name and likelihood that it will mislead outside of UK can be relevant

Before the recent changes, challenging a registered company name required demonstrating that using that company name in the United Kingdom would likely mislead by implying a connection between the company and the applicant. Companies can now face objections to their registered name if it is likely to mislead the public in the UK or elsewhere.

As a result, arguments may be advanced in support of complaints regarding the use of the company name outside of the UK or the possibility of misleading the public outside of the UK.

Past directors and members may be joined as respondents to actions

Now, persons who were members or directors of the registered company at the time the company name was registered can also be joined as respondents to CNT actions. Previously, only current members or directors could be added as respondents.

Repeal of defences

In the past, respondents could defend a CNT action by claiming their company:

  1. has begun trading under the name; or
  2. is proposing to begin trading and has incurred substantial start-up costs; or
  3. was operating under the name but is now dormant

Respondents in active proceedings which have continued beyond the 4 March 2024 implementation date can no longer rely on this defence.

In summary

If you are involved in ongoing proceedings before the CNT that extend beyond 4 March 2024, the Tribunal will not consider any submissions or evidence related to the repealed defence. If you have used any other defences, the Tribunal will only consider evidence or submissions related to those defences.

If this change will affect your ongoing proceedings before the CNT, or if you have any questions about the above, please contact your legal advisors.

The Notice of these changes can be found here.