Companies are required by law to include certain details in business letters and other business documents and correspondence. The full details are set out in The Company, Limited Liability Partnership and Business (Names and Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2015. In this article, we look at those requirements that apply to most UK companies.
The company’s full registered name must be stated legibly on all correspondence and official documents. This legal requirement extends to:
- all the company’s business letters and order forms;
- company notices and publications;
- bills of parcels, invoices, receipts and letters of credit as well as bills of exchange, promissory notes and endorsements;
- cheques and orders for money or goods which purport to be signed by or on behalf of the company;
- all other forms of the company’s business correspondence and documentation; and
- all the company’s websites – it is not necessary to show the company name on each page but it must be displayed in such a way that it can be easily read.
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When the required information is displayed or disclosed it must be in characters that can be read with the naked eye.
Company letterhead, order forms and websites
There are further requirements for the company’s business letterhead, order forms and websites. In addition to the registered name of the company, the following information must also be stated:
- the part of the United Kingdom in which the company is registered – i.e. England, England and Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales;
- the company’s registered number; and
- the address of the company’s registered office.
For email correspondence, if the paper equivalent would be caught by the stationery requirements then the email is also caught. Most companies will show the required information in the email footer automatically added when sent or require all employees to use a consistent email footer including these requirements.
In another article, we consider a number of specific important matters relating to invoices.
In addition to the requirement to show the company’s registered name on the company’s correspondence this must, unless the company has been dormant from incorporation, also be displayed at:
- the company’s registered office;
- any place where the company’s books can be inspected (ie SAIL address); and
- any location other that the company’s registered office or SAIL address at which the company carries on business.
Some types of company will face additional requirements
There are further requirements for stationery and other documents in certain cases and for certain types of company:
- Where a limited company is exempt from the requirement to use the word limited as part of its registered name (under section 60 of the Companies Act 2006), it must state the fact that it is a limited company;
- A community interest company which is not a public company must state the fact that it is a limited company;
- An investment company within the meaning of section 833 of the Companies Act 2006 must state the fact that it is such a company;
- A charitable company whose name does not include either of the words ‘charity’ or ‘charitable’ must state that it is a charity;
- Where the name of a director of the company is included, other than in the text or as a signatory, the letter must disclose the name of every director. There is no requirement to show director names at all, so effectively the company must show either all of the names of the directors or none of them, unless mentioned in the text or as a signatory; and
- If the company chooses to display its share capital, it must show the amount of paid up share capital and not include the unpaid share capital.
Other disclosure rules
As well as these general rules, there may be other legislation and regulations applicable to the company, which may then require further disclosure.
This applies particularly in certain industries, such as financial services, where firms must state the fact that they are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and, in some cases, the Prudential Regulation Authority. The company’s regulator or trade body will be a good source of information on industry-specific legal requirements and best practice.
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If a company fails to comply with these legal obligations, the company itself and every officer of the company may have committed an offence and be liable to a fine. The fine is up to £1,000 for the offence itself and then for continued breach a daily penalty of up to £100. Regulators in specific industries may also impose their own penalties.
For more help in the management of your business please see the other articles in our business management series.
A previous version of this article was originally published on 4 March 2013