The Department for the Economy (the Department) has accepted disqualification undertakings from the Directors of a furniture business.
The undertakings for the term of nine years were received from Gerard O’Hanlon (41) of Bracken Grove, Armagh Road, Newry and from Simon Harris (47) of Creevy Road, Lisburn in respect of their conduct as directors of World of Furniture (NI) Limited (“the Company”). Proceedings against a third director are ongoing in the High Court.
The Company traded in the supply of household furniture from premises at Bow Street Mall, Lisburn; Unit 6B Cityside Shopping & Leisure Park, 105 – 150 York Street, Belfast; Unit 2 Shane Retail Park, Boucher Road, Belfast; Crescent Link Retail Park, 20 Crescent Link Road, Londonderry; Unit 2, 18 West Bank Road, Belfast and Valley Retail Park, Church Road, Newtownabbey. The company went into Liquidation on 26 January 2017 with an estimated deficiency as regards creditors of £884,491.
The Department accepted the disqualification undertaking from Gerard O’Hanlon on 6 February 2020 and the undertaking from Simon Harris on 11 March 2020 based on the following unfit conduct which solely for the purposes of the disqualification procedure was not disputed:
- Causing and permitting the company to accept deposits from customers during a time when they knew or ought to have known that the company was insolvent;
- Failing to ensure that Annual Accounts for the year ended 31 March 2016 were filed with Companies House within the prescribed period;
- Failing to complete a sworn Statement of Affairs contrary to Article 111 of The Insolvency (Northern Ireland) Order 1989;
- Failing to provide a satisfactory and verifiable explanation for the large deficiency which was incurred in the final trading period of £891,267 from Net Assets of £6,779 at 31 March 2016 to Net Liabilities of £884,491 at the date of Winding Up.
The Department accepted 12 disqualification undertakings in the financial year commencing 1 April 2019.
Notes to editors:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 10 years reserved for particularly serious cases, six to 10 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The period of disqualification commences at the end of 21 days beginning with the day the Disqualification Undertaking was accepted by the Department.
- For media enquiries contact DFE Press Office on 028 9052 9604. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer on 028 9037 8110.
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