Limited Liability Partnerships


Sensitive words and expressions

1. What are ‘sensitive words and expressions’?

These are words and expressions that, when used in a limited liability partnership name, may imply business pre-eminence, a particular status or a specific function. For this reason, they have been prescribed in regulations as requiring the approval of the Secretary of State. The aim is to ensure that use of the word is justified so that the public is not misled by the name. Companies House act on behalf of the Secretary of State in dealing with applications for approval of such words and expressions.

Approval by the Secretary of State is confined to the use of certain words or expressions in the limited liability partnership name. Approval does not imply approval of a limited liability partnership’s aims and objectives.

This page gives guidance on the conditions your limited liability partnership will need to fulfil if you wish to use one of the words listed in Appendix A.

2. What types of words and expressions are sensitive?

The following words imply national or international pre-eminence:

  • British – approval of this word in your limited liability partnership name will depend on how it is used. Normally the Secretary of State would expect the limited liability partnership to be British owned. You would need to show that the limited liability partnership is pre-eminent in its field by providing supporting evidence from an independent source such as a Government department or a trade association. If the word ‘British’ is qualified by words that do not describe an activity or product, for example by using a ‘made-up’ word, then evidence of pre-eminence is not necessarily essential. But you would be expected to show that your limited liability partnership is substantial in relation to its activity or product and that it is eminent in its own field.

  • England, English, Scotland, Scottish, Wales, Welsh, Ireland or Irish – if you wish to use these words as a prefix to your limited liability partnership name, the rules are similar to those for ‘British’. You will usually be given approval to use any of these words as a suffix if you show that the limited liability partnership has its main place of business in the country concerned. If you want to use one of these words because it is a surname, you will usually be given approval if the limited liability partnership name includes forenames or initials.

  • European – names which include this word will not be approved if they unjustifiably imply a connection with official bodies of the European Union. If there is a genuine connection with an official body, the name may be allowed if the appropriate body supports the application.

  • Great Britain or United Kingdom – if you wish to use these expressions as a prefix, or to use ‘of Great Britain’ or ‘of the United Kingdom’ as a suffix, then the criteria are the same as for ‘British’. If the words are used as a suffix to the name, they are normally allowed without difficulty. Using the initials ‘GB’ or ‘UK’ in your limited liability partnership name does not require approval.

  • International – if you wish to use this word as a prefix, you need to show that the major part of the limited liability partnership’s activities is in trading overseas. If you wish to use it as a suffix, then approval will usually be given if you can show that the limited liability partnership operates in two or more overseas countries.

  • National – the criteria for use of this word are the same as for ‘British’.

The following words imply business pre-eminence or representative or authoritative status:

  • authority, board or council – if you want to use any of these words, you should ask Companies House for advice. If the limited liability partnership is to be registered in Scotland, contact Companies House in Edinburgh.

  • institute or institution – approval for use of these words is normally given only to those organisations which are carrying out research at the highest level or to professional bodies of the highest standing. You will need to show Companies House that there is a need for the proposed institute and that it has appropriate regulations or examination standards. You will need evidence of support from other representative and independent bodies.

The following words imply specific objects or functions:

  • charter or chartered – names that include these words will be refused if they unjustifiably give the impression that the limited liability partnership has a Royal Charter. If the words are used to qualify a profession, Companies House will seek the advice of the appropriate governing body before considering whether to give approval.

  • chemist or chemistry – if you want to use these words, you should ask for advice from Companies House in Cardiff. If the limited liability partnership is to be registered in Scotland, contact Companies House in Edinburgh.

  • group – if use of this word implies several limited liability partnerships under one corporate ownership, then you will need to provide evidence of a parent and/or subsidiary association with two or more other British or overseas partnerships. If the name clearly shows that the limited liability partnership is to promote the interests of a group of individuals, then the name will normally be approved.

  • holding(s) – a limited liability partnership wishing to use this word must be a holding limited liability partnership as defined under section 736 of the Companies Act 1985.

  • patent or patentee – a name including either word will only be approved if it does not contravene the Copyright, Designs and Patent Act 1988.

  • post office – Companies House are likely to seek advice on applications that include these words.

  • register or registered – Companies House treat every application for use of these words on its merits. Generally, they will seek advice from the appropriate governing body if names that include these words are linked with a professional qualification. The name will not be registered if it unjustifiably implies a connection with HM Government or a local authority. If such a connection actually exists, the name may be allowed if the appropriate body supports the application.

  • Sheffield – if you wish to use a name that includes the word ‘Sheffield’, Companies House will need to establish details of the limited liability partnership’s location and its business activities. They will also consult the Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire.

  • trade union – names including this expression will normally be refused unless they conform to legislation relating to trade unions.

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