County Antrim director disqualified

Date published: 01 March 2022

Following an application from the Department for the Economy (“the Department”), Philip Howarth (59) of Loanends Road, Nutts Corner, Crumlin was disqualified for six years in the High Court, Belfast on 3 February 2022 in respect of his conduct as a director of JC Property and Maintenance Services (NI) Limited (“the Company”).

Director disqualified
Director disqualified

The Company operated as general cleaning of buildings service and went into liquidation on 30 May 2018 with an estimated deficiency as regards creditors of £164,233.72.  There was a total of £10,000.00 owing as Share Capital, resulting in an estimated deficiency as regards members of £174,233.72. 

The matters of unfit conduct alleged by the Department in relation to Philip Howarth in respect of his conduct as a director of the Company and accepted by the Court were:

  • Causing and permitting the Company to submit inaccurate VAT returns totalling £139,247.00 and a further sum of £7,173.75 resulting in a loss of monies properly due to the Crown from 2011/12.  This represented 84% of the Company’s overall revised estimated deficiency in respect of VAT properly payable to the Crown.  Furthermore, as he submitted inaccurate VAT returns, he ultimately discriminated against the Crown as the Company was not paying as much VAT as it should have paid and therefore had more money available to fund the continued trading of the Company.

The Department has accepted twenty six Disqualification Undertakings and the Court has made eight Disqualification Orders in the financial year commencing 1 April 2021.

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.  To keep up to date with news from the Department you can follow us on the following social media channels:
  1. For media enquiries contact the Department for the Economy Press Office at pressoffice@economy-ni.gov.uk
  2. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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