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is it illegal to use your maiden name in company formation

is it illegal to use your maiden name in company formation? client would be shareholder only but wants some small amount of anonymity as a shareholder in this new company - it is for commercial reasons only


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27th Mar 2012 18:03

As I understand the issue of using names generally the key point is whether there is any intention to deceive. Lots of women carry on using their maiden names either for all purposes or else for professional or other reasons. What worries me slightly with your post is that there is a hint she might be trying to "hide" in some way.

If your client has changed to her married name for absolutely all other purposes I wonder if she might encounter practical problems - for example in satisfying ID checks for bank accounts and similar? 


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By Hansa
27th Mar 2012 18:57


In a word ... no it is not illegal provided it is not an attempt to decieve - just look at Cheri Booth (professional persona)  or Cheri Blair (political persona).

However, a better way to achieve this would be by way of a nominee.  Any one from a trusted friend (with a declaration of trust) through to a nominee company (perhaps her own bank).  She could even go the whole hog and form (say) a Delaware LLC to hold the shares on her behalf. 

This way she achieves absolute (rather than partial) anonymity.


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27th Mar 2012 19:54

It is illegal

"client would be shareholder only but wants some small amount of anonymity as a shareholder in this new company - it is for commercial reasons only"


why do you think directors and shareholders are public knowledge?

I think it would be wrong to use her maiden name.The public should know who she is.

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27th Mar 2012 20:06

I have a client

who is registered for everything - passport, council tax, personal tax etc etc as Sarah (shall we say) Smith, but at Companies House she is known as  Sarah (say) Jones and her Company is called Sarah  Jones Limited (she is a respected medical practitioner so name is the key)

This is because she has been trading for many many years (pre marriage) and all her clients know her as Sarah (say) Jones.

This treatment was approved by companies house (she has a note of matter from 7 years ago before she got married)

So I guess all OK - however, as previous posters have said, it depends WHY she is avoiding the public name

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27th Mar 2012 20:21


she wants "anonymity" so it should be allowed to do it this way.

Hansa has the right suggestion if it is that important.

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27th Mar 2012 21:49


many thanks for amazing collection of replies so swiftly - the reason for wanting anonymity is  that her business is "upper class" and unprofitable but her husbands is "lower class" and very lucrative! forgive the crass differentiation but I knew if I used retail brands as examples I would offend and she doesn't want the upper class clients knowing about her involvement

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By neileg
28th Mar 2012 09:32

Not illegal

Under English law your name is what you are known by. There is no register of names anywhere - birth certificate is not proof, passport isn't either. As has been pointed out, it is not unusual to have more than one name for different aspects of your life and this is perfectly OK.

However, I would argue that the intention here is to deceive, albeit not with any intent to act criminally. Using a nominee arrangement is completely legal and will achieve the desired ends and keep your client completely in the right.

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30th Mar 2012 11:42

Companies Act says...

According to The Companies Act on incorporation the details for the subscriber "must contain such information as may be prescribed for the purpose of identifying the subscribers to the memorandum of association."


So I don't see any problem with using a maiden name as it can still be used to accurately identify her.

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30th Mar 2012 13:17

thanks Neil & Mook


does a Declaration of Trust need to involve a solicitor?



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By Hansa
30th Mar 2012 13:54

Declaration of trust

No, it doesn't (need to involve a solicitor).  It might be prudent to have it witnessed though.

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By sdataw
17th Jan 2013 10:07

contract law implications - directors usiing commonly known name

It has been determined that this is permissible and that a person registering a company need use a name that may be on their official documents.

We all know that the company formed is a legal entity and affords limited liability. However, if it is established that the limited liability is lost as the director has acted imprudently or fraudulently, what is the position in contract law if proceedings are issued against a director using commonly used name? Could a defense that this is not a true identity work?

This is a hypothetical question- Any experience to share would be welcome.


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