Guidance for (Acting) Returning Officers administering a UK Parliamentary election in Great Britain

Determining a nomination to be invalid

Grounds for determining a nomination form invalid

By law, the only grounds you have for determining that a nomination form is invalid are:1

  • that the particulars of the candidate or the persons subscribing the nomination form are not as required by law
  • that the paper is not subscribed as required
  • that the person is disqualified under the Representation of the People Act 1981 on the grounds that they are imprisoned and serving a sentence of a year or more
  • that the person is subject to a disqualification order under section 30 of the Elections Act 2022

Particulars of the candidate

The particulars of the candidate include the description given on the nomination paper, therefore, the nomination must be deemed invalid if:

  • the party does not appear on the Commission’s register of political parties as a party that can contest elections in your part of the country 
  • the party name or description used on the nomination form does not exactly match the party name or description as registered with the Commission 
  • the use of the party name or description has not been authorised by a certificate of authorisation signed by or on behalf of the party’s Nominating Officer  
  • the certificate of authorisation explicitly authorises a specific name or description and this does not match the party name/description on the nomination form2  

There is case law that provides that candidates who give descriptions that are obscene, racist or an incitement to crime should be considered to have provided particulars that are “not as required by law”. This is because they contravene the law and/or will inevitably involve the Returning Officer in a breach of the law.

If the nomination form does not comply with the description rules you must give a determination decision to that effect as soon as practicable after the delivery of the nomination form and in any event within 24 hours after the deadline for the delivery of nominations.3
We have produced a nominations checklist for (A)ROs which sets out what you will need to consider and specific things to look out for when determining a nomination.


Our section ‘Nomination form -  subscribers requirements’ contains detailed information on subscribers.

If a nomination is not subscribed as required it must be deemed invalid. 

Failure to provide a deposit

If you have not received the required £500 deposit or any of the required nomination papers by the deadline for the submission of nomination papers, the candidate has not been validly nominated. There is then no need to make a formal determination, and their name should not appear on the statement of persons nominated.4

Return of deposit due to nomination not being valid 

You must return the deposit of any candidate whose nomination you have rejected. The deposit must be returned to the person who made it and as soon as practicable after the statement of persons nominated has been published.5  For guidance on returning deposits to validly nominated candidates after an election see Post election activity.

Grounds for determining a home address form invalid

You must determine that the home address form does not comply with the legal requirements if:6

  • it does not state the candidate’s full name
  • it does not state the candidate’s home address in full

Sham nominations

You may come across a situation where the candidate's nomination is clearly a sham - for example, if a candidate has given an obviously fictitious name or address such as 'Mickey Mouse of Disney Land'. In such a case, the nomination form must be held to be invalid on the grounds that the candidate’s particulars are not as required by law.7

When considering the name, the first consideration should be whether the “name” that has been provided on the nomination form appears to be “obviously fictitious” on the face of the paper. 

If the “name” does not appear to be a genuine name and instead appears to be a statement or slogan, for example, you may consider that it is “obviously fictitious”. 

Any conclusion would be supported by considering the wider context. For example, does the name appear to be a political slogan made in response to topical political events, rather than the genuine name of a real person? 

A court would likely in those circumstances conclude that such names are “obviously fictitious” and that the nomination form should be rejected.

Last updated: 19 December 2023