Making a complaint against a bankrupt or disqualified director acting illegally

This section deals with making a complaint against a bankrupt or disqualified director acting illegally.

How to make a complaint

If you suspect that an individual is acting in breach of a disqualification order, a disqualification undertaking or a bankruptcy order, please contact the Insolvency Service's Directors Disqualification Unit:

Telephone: 028 9054  8508

Depending on the circumstances of the complaint, the Insolvency Service may refer you directly to the PSNI by contacting your local PSNI station by phoning 101.

Meaning of 'disqualified directors'

Under the Company Directors Disqualification (Northern Ireland) Order 2002 the High Court may make a disqualification order for a specified period against an individual. As a result that person:

  • must not be a director of a company, be a member of a limited liability partnership, act as receiver of a company's property, or in any way, whether directly or indirectly, be concerned or take part in the promotion, formation or management of a company unless he/she has permission of the High Court
  • must not act as an insolvency practitioner.

Also, under the Company Directors Disqualification Order 2002, an individual may give an undertaking to the Department for the Economy not to do anything mentioned in the above; and, once accepted, that undertaking has the same effect as a disqualification order.

Meaning of 'undischarged bankrupts'

Similarly, when a bankruptcy order has been made against an individual, he or she must get the High Court's permission before becoming a member of a limited liability partnership or acting as a director of, or directly or indirectly taking part in or being concerned in the promotion, formation or management of a company. While the bankruptcy order remains in force, the individual is undischarged from the bankruptcy.

Meaning of 'bankruptcy restrictions orders and undertakings'

Legislation introduced on 27 March 2006 gave the Official Receiver power to apply to the High Court for a bankruptcy restrictions order against any bankrupt who he believes to be dishonest or in some other way to blame for his position. These orders can last for between 2 and 15 years and have the effect of continuing to apply the restrictions of bankruptcy after discharge. Alternatively, the bankrupt may give an undertaking to the Department for the Economy to be subject to the restrictions for an agreed period.

What disqualified directors, bankrupts and individuals subject to bankruptcy restrictions are allowed to do

Disqualified directors, bankrupts and individuals subject to bankruptcy restrictions may carry on business as sole traders or partners in an unlimited liability partnership. However, if a bankrupt or someone subject to bankruptcy restrictions chooses to conduct such business in a different name from that in which they were made bankrupt, they must disclose the former name in all business transactions.

If a director, bankrupt or former bankrupt contravenes the order or undertaking

It is a criminal offence to contravene a disqualification order or undertaking, a bankruptcy order or a bankruptcy restrictions order or undertaking. It is also a criminal offence for another person to assist a disqualified person to act in this way. A person who contravenes the order or undertaking could also become personally liable for any debts of the company which it incurs while the order or undertaking is contravened. Anybody who carries out that person's instructions may also be personally liable.

If a disqualification order has been made against, or an undertaking given by, a corporate director, and the corporation contravenes the order or undertaking, then its officers or managers can be punished as if the order or undertaking applied to them personally.

Checking if someone has been disqualified

The Companies House maintains the Disqualified Directors Register and you can access it by contacting the Companies House Contact Centre, telephone: +44 (0) 303 1234 500 or via its Companies House website.

Checking if someone is an undischarged bankrupt 

The Bankruptcy and Chancery Office at the High Court in Belfast maintains the Insolvency register for Northern Ireland and which can accessed at the Court Service website. There will be a charge for this service.

Checking if someone is subject to a bankruptcy restrictions order or undertaking

The Insolvency Service maintains the register of bankruptcy restrictions order and undertakings and you can request a search, without charge, by writing, faxing or e-mailing to:-

The Insolvency Service
Fermanagh House
20a Ormeau Avenue,
BT2 8NJ 

Telephone: 028 9054 8531
Fax: 028 9054 8555

How a complaint will be dealt with

Initial enquiries into all complaints will be undertaken by:

The Insolvency Service
Directors Disqualification Unit
Fermanagh House
20a Ormeau Avenue

Telephone: 028 9054 8531
Fax: 028 9054 8555 

If these enquiries indicate that an offence may have been committed, the Directors Disqualification Unit will then decide whether a report should be sent to the PSNI. You may be asked to give a formal statement before proceedings start.

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