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Conlig director agrees to disqualification

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (the Department) has accepted a disqualification undertaking for five years from the director of a Belfast debt collection business.

Martyn William Joseph Barratt (53) of Ardvanagh Court, Conlig, Co Down agreed to disqualification in respect of his conduct as a director of Barratt & Associates Limited (“the Company”).

The Company carried on the business of debt collection from Howard Street, Belfast and went into liquidation on 5 October 2011 with estimated total assets available for preferential creditors of £28,474, liabilities to preferential creditors of £4,408, liabilities of £390,578 to non-preferential creditors, and an estimated deficiency as regards creditors of £366,512. 

After taking into account the losses incurred by members (the shareholders) of the Company the total estimated deficiency was £366,514. 

The Department accepted the disqualification undertaking from Martyn William Joseph Barratt on 25 September 2013, based on the following unfit conduct which solely for the purposes of the disqualification procedure was not disputed:

· causing and permitting the Company to fail to pay a total of £260,764 due to the Crown consisting of £12,568 in respect of PAYE and £22,152 in respect of NIC for the year 2010/11; and £226,044 in respect of VAT from October 2003 to September 2011;

· causing and permitting the Company to continue to trade without a consumer credit licence from 10 January 2008 until the cessation of trade on 31 July 2011 following the lapse of the licence;

· causing and permitting the Company to misappropriate customer monies to fund the trading activities of the Company and failing to maintain and/or preserve and/or deliver up accounting records to the Liquidator therefore causing him to be unable to ascertain the extent of the misappropriation;

· failing to file accounts for the Company for the years end 30 September 2004, 30 September 2005, 30 September 2006, 30 September 2007, 30 September 2008, 30 September 2009, and 30 September 2010, on time;

· causing and permitting the Company to fail to file Annual Returns for the Company for the years made up to 5 September 2003, 5 September 2005, 5 September 2006, 5 September 2007, 5 September 2008, 5 September 2009, and 5 September 2010 on time.

The Department has accepted 57 Disqualification Undertakings and the Court has made six orders disqualifying directors in the financial year commencing 1 April 2013.

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 of Enterprise, Trade and Investment. 

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 9054 8582. 

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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