County Antrim directors agree to disqualification

Date published: 15 October 2021

The Department for the Economy (the Department) has accepted disqualification undertakings from the directors of a company involved in the sale of food, beverages and tobacco.

Director disqualification undertaking
Director disqualification undertaking

The undertakings were received for twelve years from James Michael O’Neill (80) of Harberton Drive, Belfast and Conor O’Neill (49) of Malone Hill Park, Belfast, in respect of their conduct as directors of Botl Wine & Spirit Merchants Ltd.

The Company operated in the sale of food, beverages and tobacco trading from Unit 11, Building 10 Central Park, Mallusk, Belfast. The Company went into Administration on 4th July 2018 with an estimated deficiency as regards creditors of £3,908,170. There was a total of £300,000 owing as Share Capital, resulting in an estimated deficiency as regards members of £4,208,170.  

The Department accepted the disqualification undertakings from James Michael O’Neill and Conor O’Neill on 22 September 2021 based on the following unfit conduct which solely for the purposes of the disqualification procedure was not disputed:

  • Misusing the invoice discounting facility by inflating the Company’s sales ledger, debtor receipts and the debtors ledger in order to draw down money from Close Invoice Finance Limited causing a loss to Close Invoice Finance Limited of £2,511,722;
  • Causing the Company to continue to trade whilst insolvent from at least 30 April 2017 until the date of administration, to the detriment of both the secured and unsecured creditors;
  • failing to maintain and / or preserve and / or deliver up to an adequate level, the accounting records of the Company, in accordance with Article 386 of the Companies Act 2006, which were sufficient to show and explain the Company’s transactions and as such to disclose with reasonable accuracy, at any time, the financial position of the Company;
  • Failing to file the annual returns / confirmation statements for the period ended 14 August 2015, 14 August 2016 and 14 August 2017 within the prescribed periods.
  • Failing to file annual accounts for the years ended 30 September 2016 and 30 September 2017 and annual accounts for the year ended 30 September 2014 and 30 September 2015 were not filed within the prescribed period;

The Department has accepted 19 Disqualification Undertakings 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. Follow us on twitter.
  9. For media enquiries contact the DfE Press Office at pressoffice@economy-ni.gov.uk
  10. 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.

Share this page

Back to top