Trading Disclosures: revealing your company's identity

Did you know that a company is legally obliged to disclose certain information about itself to the public? This obligation is laid down in The Companies (Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2008 (as amended in 2009) (the "Regulations").  The reason for this 'disclosure requirement' is so that anyone dealing with a company knows who they are dealing with.  The Regulations have been in force for a while now, but a large number of companies are still yet to comply with the Regulations.

Sanctions

If your company fails to comply with the Regulationsit will commit a criminal offence and renders your company and every officer who is in default liable to a fine, which you will want to avoid!

To help you comply with these Regulations, the Company and Commercial team at Smith Partnership have prepared a brief summary below of where and what your company needs to disclose in order to be legally compliant.

Showing off your company name

Your company (except companies which have been dormant since their incorporation) must display its registered name (its official name listed at Companies House) at:

  1. its registered office;
  2. any place where its records are kept for inspection; and
  3. any place it lays down its hat to trade (unless that same place is primarily used for living accommodation).

In addition to this, your company must include its registered name in all business communications (hard copy and electronic).

So…what are the exceptions?

There are two exceptions to the requirement to display your company name:

  1. if your company is insolvent (i.e. in liquidation or administration etc.) and its registered office or inspection place moves to that of a liquidator, administrator or receiver; and
  2. if every director of the company has the immunity to have their residential addresses protected from disclosure to a credit reference agency. If this is the case the company is not required to display its name at any place at which it carries on business. However, the company must still display its name at the registered office or inspection place for the company's records.

What did that sign say?

Your company's name must be in characters that are easily readable to the naked eye and placed in an obvious position so that visitors can see it.  It must be displayed continuously, unless your company shares its offices with six or more companies (in this case your company's name must be displayed for at least 15 continuous seconds, once every 3 minutes).

Communications

Your company will no doubt send out letters, notices, emails, invoices or cheques and you must make sure that your company's name is displayed on these materials.   

Websites can work wonders

If your company has a website, your company must display, amongst other things, its registered name.    This doesn't mean you that you have to stick your company name all over the place on every page (even though that would help the website visitor remember you!).  It just needs to be easily read.

Displaying directors' names

Your company is not legally obliged to display the names of its directors on its business communications (letters, emails, websites etc) unless you decide to do so. However, if you decide to display their names, then you must state the names of all directors.  Basically, it’s show all or nothing!

But what about me? I'm a charity!

If you are a charitable company whose name does not include the word "charity" or "charitable" then you are required to state that you’re a charity on company documents (including but not limited to, business letters, invoices and notices).

Additional disclosures

That’s not all folks! There is additional information which your Company must disclose, to find out more we suggest you view the Government website (www.gov.uk).  The most important information you should disclose is your Company's name, company number and registered office address. If you don’t have this information to hand you can go to the Companies House website (http://www.companieshouse.gov.uk/) and use the 'find company information' tool.

Providing information on request

A request for information can be made by anybody with whom the company does business with (or deals with during the course of business). These curious (or nosey) people can make a written request for your Company's registered office address, the location at which your Company keeps its company records and the types of company records kept at your company's registered office address or place of inspection.  Your company must provide this information to the person, in writing and within five working days of receipt of the request.

Further Information

If you have any questions or require specific advice on any matter discussed in this publication, please contact Kay-Leigh Keen (T: 01332 225 279 or E: kay-leigh.keen@smithpartnership.co.uk) or Balraj Kang (T: 01332 225 416 or E: balraj.kang@smithpartnership.co.uk)