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28 October 2003

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Limited Companies Risk Internet Fines 


Trying to apply existing rules to a new media can be a minefield.

Generally websites are viewed as another advertising medium, with the obvious advantages of 24/7availability. But it seems that a website can fall foul of Part XI of the Companies Act 1985 which concerns what are called 'the notepaper offences'.


Part XI does not just apply to headed notepaper, it includes other documents that the company creates. It is also likely to apply to websites and emails and sets out what a limited company's notepaper must contain and the following details must be included: 

  • The proper name of the company as registered at Companies House;

  • The place of registration, for example 'Registered in England and Wales';

  • The company number;

  • The address of the registered office;

  • The fact that the company is a limited company; and

  • The names of either none, or all, of the directors.

Any officer of a company or anyone who 'issues or authorises the issue' of publications without the required details may be prosecuted, not just a company director.

Many companies have a physical address on their sites, but not the registered office. Others may include sales and marketing directors, but rarely are all directors listed. It's quite easy to see why few companies and web designers are aware of this, when you don't normally see Company Registration Numbers on printed advertising.

Although Companies House say there are currently no actual rules regarding this, all businesses would be wise to treat websites and email communications as if they were the written word and incorporate the required details accordingly.

September 2000

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