Law guide: Business start-up

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What you need to disclose about your partnership

What you need to disclose about your partnership

Business names

If your partnership carries on a business under a business name, you will need to comply with the rules governing the disclosure of business names. A business name can be any name, except for the partners' surnames with the addition of their forename or initial, or the corporate names of partners who are companies.

Information which you must disclose

You must disclose the name of each partner and an address in the UK where documents may be served and notices given to each partner.

Your partnership must disclose this information on all

  • Business letters
  • Written orders for goods or services to be supplied to the partnership
  • Invoices and receipts issued in the course of your business, and
  • Business-related written demands for payment of debts.

There is an exemption for large partnerships i.e. with over 20 partners. These do not need to include the names of all the partners in business documents as long as

  • the partnership keeps a list of the names of all the partners at its principal place of business
  • no partner's name appears in the document, other than in the text or as a signatory, and
  • the document legibly states the address of the partnership's principal place of business, and that the list of all the partners may be inspected there.

It is an offence, punishable by fine, to refuse inspection of the list of partners' names without reasonable excuse.

Disclosure at business premises

At the place where your partnership carries on business you must also display a notice showing the names of each of the partners and their addresses for service. This notice must be displayed in a prominent position where it can easily be read by customers and suppliers.

Consequences of non-disclosure

Failure to comply with these disclosure requirements is a criminal offence that is punishable by a fine. The partnership could also be barred from making a claim if it is based on a contract they made with anyone who suffered financial loss as a result of their non-disclosure.

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