County Down directors agree to disqualification

Date published: 11 August 2021

The Department for the Economy (the Department) has accepted a disqualification undertaking from the directors of a construction company.

Director disqualification
Director disqualification

The undertaking was received for ten years from Oliver Sloan (40) of Old Belfast Road, Downpatrick and six years from Gabriel Sloan (64) of Whinney Park, Downpatrick, in respect of their conduct as the directors of Big Block Construction Limited (“the Company”).

The Company acted as a developer of building projects, trading from Saul Brae, Downpatrick and went into Liquidation on 27 September 2018 with an estimated deficiency as regards creditors of £3,722,495.42.  There was a total of £100 owing as Share Capital, resulting in an estimated deficiency as regards members of £3,722,595.42.

The Department accepted the disqualification undertaking from Oliver Sloan on 20 July 2021 based on the following unfit conduct which solely for the purposes of the disqualification procedure was not disputed:

  • Acting as a de-facto director of Big Block Construction Limited from incorporation, and whilst bankrupt during the period 14 November 2013 to 14 November 2014. Therefore, by continuing to undertake the role of director, he is likely to have breached Article 15 of the Company Directors Disqualification (Northern Ireland) Order 2002 and he may therefore be guilty of an offence under Article 18;
  • Causing and permitting the Company to submit inaccurate CIS returns totalling £123,944 and inaccurate VAT returns totalling £2,054,149 and failed to pay a further sum of £32,461.20 resulting in a loss of monies properly due to the Crown from 2012/13 totalling £2,210,554.20 at the date of liquidation.  Furthermore, operating a policy of discrimination in that significant payments were made to trade creditors at a time when the HMRC debt continued to increase.

The Department accepted the disqualification undertaking from Gabriel Sloan on 20 July 2021 based on the following unfit conduct which solely for the purposes of the disqualification procedure was not disputed:

  • Permitting Oliver Sloan to act as a de-facto director of Big Block Construction Limited from 14 November 2013 to 14 November 2014, in the knowledge that he was disqualified from so acting;
  • Causing and permitting the Company to submit inaccurate CIS returns totalling £123,944 and inaccurate VAT returns totalling £1,900,568 resulting in a loss of monies properly due to the Crown from 2012/13 totalling £2,024,512 at the date of liquidation.  Furthermore, operating a policy of discrimination in that significant payments were made to trade creditors at a time when the HMRC debt continued to increase.

The Department has accepted fifteen 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.
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  9. For media enquiries contact 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.

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