The Department for the Economy (the Department) has accepted a disqualification undertaking from the Director of a licensed restaurant business.
The undertaking was received for six years from Faye McFarland (46) of Governors Gate, Hillsborough, in respect of her conduct as director of Vine Agencies Limited which traded as Harlem Café.
The Company operated a licensed restaurant from Bedford Street, Belfast and went into liquidation on 18 October 2016 with an estimated deficiency as regards creditors of £206,326. Prior to liquidation, the fixtures and fittings and stock were professionally valued and were sold to a third party. After taking into account the losses incurred by members (the shareholders) of the Company the estimated total deficiency was £206,327.
The Department accepted the disqualification undertaking from Faye McFarland on 23 October 2019 based on the following unfit conduct which solely for the purposes of the disqualification procedure was not disputed:
- causing and permitting the Company to retain monies totalling £178,464.80 in respect of PAYE, NIC and VAT which were properly payable to the Crown representing 86% of the Company’s overall estimated deficiency;
- failing to maintain effective cash management within the Company and /or in the alternative failing to maintain adequate accounting records that were sufficient to show and explain the company's transactions, and disclose with reasonable accuracy, at any time, the financial position of the company;
- failing to comply with the provisions of the Companies Act 2006 in that the Annual Accounts for the years ended 31 December 2010, 31 December 2011, 31 December 2012 and 31 December 2013, were not filed within the prescribed period and accounts for the years ended 31 December 2014 and 31 December 2015 were never filed; and
- causing and permitting Vine Agencies Limited to fail to comply with the Companies Act 2006 in that Annual Returns for the years ended 7 September 2010, 7 September 2011, 7 September 2012, 7 September 2013 and 7 September 2015 were not filed within the prescribed period.
The Department has accepted four Disqualification Undertakings in the financial year commencing 1 April 2019
Notes to editors:
1. Insolvency Practitioners acting as voluntary liquidators, administrative receivers and administrators have a duty to report unfit conduct to the Insolvency Service within the Department for the Economy.
2. The aim of the Department is to bring disqualification proceedings against those directors of failed companies who have abused the privilege of limited liability status through negligence, incompetence or lack of commercial probity. The legislation contained in the Company Directors Disqualification (Northern Ireland) Order 2002 (“the 2002 Order”) is for the protection of the public and trading community but its operation should not inhibit genuine enterprise.
3. In cases where a person is subject to either a Disqualification Order made by the Court or a Disqualification Undertaking accepted by the Department, that person shall not be a director of a company, act as a 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 has the leave of the High Court. A disqualified person cannot obtain permission to act as an Insolvency Practitioner.
4. Article 9 of the 2002 Order provides that where a director is found to be unfit he must be disqualified for a minimum period of two years, up to a maximum of fifteen years. The Courts have decided that the level of seriousness of unfit conduct can fall into three brackets with the top bracket of periods over ten years reserved for particularly serious cases, six to ten years reserved for cases which do not merit the top bracket and two to five years for cases where, although disqualification is mandatory, the case is less serious.
5. The 2002 Order also allows directors, with the agreement of the Department, to avoid the need for a court hearing by offering an acceptable Disqualification Undertaking. This has exactly the same legal effect as a Disqualification Order made by the court, and will usually include a schedule identifying the director’s unfit conduct. The consequences of breaching a Disqualification Undertaking are the same as those for breaching a Disqualification Order.
6. If anybody contravenes a Disqualification Order or breaches their Disqualification Undertaking they may be committing a criminal offence and could go to prison for up to two years or face a fine or both. Any person with information to suggest that a disqualified person has acted in contravention of this provision should contact The Insolvency Service’s Directors Disqualification Unit on 028 90 548582.
7. The period of disqualification commences at the end of 21 days beginning with the day the Disqualification Undertaking was accepted by the Department.
8. For media enquiries contact the Department for the Economy Press Office on 028 9052 9604. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer on 028 9037 8110.
9. Follow us on Twitter @Economy_NI
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