Business Names Act

The Business Names Act 1985 was repealed and the various requirements included in to The Companies Act 2006. This is a tad confusing as it does not just apply to companies, but also individual sole traders and partnerships.

Basically the idea is that if someone is trading, acting as a business, then they have to actually identify themselves. It is why many shops will have a small plaque that states the company name and registered office, and why web sites and letterheads state company name and number and registered office. It applies to individuals and partners in that they have to state the name and address of the people involved on business letters and order forms and so on.

The principle is that you have to be able to identify the party with whom you are dealing relatively easily.

Unfortunately I am having trouble working out who enforces these rules!

Trading Standards said Companies House.

Companies House said yes, for rules relating to registered businesses (82-84), but not the section on individuals (1202), try the police.

Now I have had a nice chat with a Scottish policeman, who has paid a visit to Mr McGhie after I made a complaint, but who is unsure what to do. He says he has checked all the details he has, his manuals on such things, and cannot find anything that covers this. He thinks it is not a police matter, even though it is a clear criminal offence. He suggested Companies House!

In the end we have left it that he is going to ask Companies House for advice, but ultimately, surely, if there is a crime, then someone should be responsible for enforcement.

We'll see how it goes.


  1. If it's illegal there should be a punishment detailed. What is it? That might help.

    1. A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale and, for continued contravention, a daily default fine not exceeding one-tenth of level 3 on the standard scale.

  2. You could always bring a private prosecution. Expensive though!

    1. Someone must have responsibility for enforcement. This was not the police saying that it was minor, and they "had spoken to him and he is amending the letterhead", and as such it would not be in public interest to go further. No. This was the police saying they don't handle this.

    2. Well there are a few bodies who tend to investigate and prosecute rather than the Police & Crown Prosecution Service e.g. Ofcom (ironically), Royal Mail, RSPCA, etc.

      The problem is, even if the police were to investigate the matter fully and recommend prosecution, the CPS (or whatever it's called in Scotland) might not think it's in the public interest to prosecute.

      My firm mainly does criminal defence work, but we do private prosecutions too so, if you're interested, get in touch.

  3. Companies House's Technical Offences (Breaches) Team?



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