The new Company Names Adjudicator Rules 2008 (the Rules) will come into effect on 1 October 2008. The aim of the Rules is to regulate proceedings brought before a company names adjudicator to consider an objection to a company's registered name because it is either the same as one in which the applicant has goodwill or is so like such a name as to be likely to mislead by suggesting a connection between the company and the applicant.
The Rules have been brought in as a result of section 69 of the Companies Act 2006 which created the new right for any person (not just a company) to object to a company names adjudicator for the reasons above.
The rationale behind the Rules is to deter the sharp practice of opportunistic registration of company names.
The office of the company names adjudicator will be at the Intellectual Property Office in Newport, South Wales (the Office), but will also hold hearings at its London office. Videoconferencing facilities are available.
All applications and/or documents must be filed at the Office, which will accept them as being received on that day if they are received between 9am and midnight Monday to Friday and between 9am and 1pm on Saturdays, except Good Friday, Christmas Day, bank holidays and any Saturday where the previous Friday and the following Saturday are one of the above.
The applicant must submit a concise statement of grounds to the Office along with its address for service in the UK and a £400 fee.
The adjudicator will request that the respondent file its counter-statement on the appropriate form, including an address for service in the UK and £150 fee, within a specified period. The counter-statement needs to be comprehensive, including the grounds on which the respondent relies, admission or denial of the allegations and state which allegations it requires the applicant to prove.
When the specified response period has passed, the adjudicator will specify further periods within which the parties may file evidence. The appropriate form and a £150 fee must accompany any evidence submitted to the Office.
The adjudicator has the power to treat an application as withdrawn if either party misses any deadline set by the adjudicator as part of the adjudication process. The adjudicator also has powers to strike out applications or any defence in whole or part if it is vexatious, has no reasonable prospect of success or is otherwise misconceived. However, the adjudicator may consider requests for time extensions even if the period has expired, but such requests must be on the appropriate form and accompanied by a £100 fee. Retrospective extensions must be filed within two months from the date of the expired time period.
The adjudicator has the power to determine if an oral hearing is required at the request (on the appropriate form and with a £100 fee) of either party. However, either party can apply for the proceedings to be held in public.
The adjudicator will give at least 14 days' notice if he decides a hearing is required.
The adjudicator will send the parties written notice of his decision stating his reasoning. The decision can be appealed.
At any stage of the proceedings the adjudicator may direct the parties to attend a case management conference or pre-hearing review and may give directions as to the management of the proceedings as he thinks fit.
The adjudicator may also control evidence by giving directions on the issues that he requires evidence on, the nature of the evidence and the way in which evidence is placed before him. Subject to this, evidence may be given by way of witness statement, affidavit or statutory declaration.
The adjudicator may at any stage award either party such costs as he considers reasonable and direct how and by which party they are to be paid.
Either party may make an application for costs, which must be accompanied by a £150 fee. Where a party makes such an application the adjudicator may require security if he is satisfied that this is required, having regard to all the circumstances.
The adjudicator may allow electronic filing and sending of documents.