The quick answer
The quick answer is no, you can not normally use the same or similar company name and you will not be able to for five years following the liquidation of the company. However there are some exemptions discussed below.
In more detail
There are three main exceptions to be able to re-use the same or similar trading name and these are:
- If you have a second limited company with a similar name that has been trading for at least 12 months prior to the liquidation. A good example would be another company within a group.
- If you buy all or substantially all of the assets from the liquidator then you can re-use the name or similar name if you: a) place an advert in the London Gazette (costs about £80) and b) write to all creditors within 28 days. Often clients ask a solicitor to deal with this.
- You can apply to Court to re-use the name but only have seven days following the liquidation (it can be done in advance though).
If you fail to comply with the rules then the penalties are a possible fine, imprisonment, personal liability for the new company debts and an increased chance of being disqualified as a director.
There is no restriction on re-using a name if your company goes into Administration and then dissolution.
It is worth noting these rules are from Section 216 of the Insolvency Act 1986.