The Department for the Economy (the Department) has accepted a disqualification undertaking from the Director of a company which traded in the business of the selling and distribution of retail products. The High Court also made an Order to disqualify another Director of the company.
The undertaking was received for five years from Eric Campbell (56) of Findrum Road, Ballygawley, Dungannon and the Court Order was made against Craig Bennett (50) of Ballyshiel Road, Tandragee, County Armagh for eleven years in respect of their conduct as directors of Boost & Boom Limited (“the Company”).
The Company operated in the retail products Industry from Tulnavern Road, Ballygawley, Dungannon and went into liquidation on 3 June 2016 with estimated total assets available to creditors of £43,153, estimated liabilities to unsecured non-preferential creditors of £275,961 and an estimated deficiency as regards creditors of £232,808. After taking into account the losses incurred by members (the shareholders) of the Company, the estimated total deficiency was £232,908.
The Department accepted the disqualification undertaking from Eric Campbell on 28 May 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 due to the Crown in the sum of £163,282 in respect of PAYE (Tax), NIC and VAT from 2014/2015 to the date of Liquidation;
- causing and permitting a third party to act as a director of the Company in the knowledge that the individual was a disqualified director; and
- failing to maintain effective financial control of the Company in that he did not 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 at that time.
The Court Order was made against Craig Bennett for 11 years on 2 May 2023 with the disqualification period effective from 23 May 2023.
The High Court has made one Disqualification Order and the Department has accepted two Disqualification Undertakings in the financial year commencing 1 April 2023.
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 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.
- 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.
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