Belfast restaurant directors disqualified
Stormont Executive press release - Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment
Two directors of a company which traded as a Belfast City Centre restaurant have been disqualified for five years.
Brian Smyth (61) of Gosford Castle, Armagh and Lynda Coulter (53) of Deramore Park, Belfast, were each disqualified for five years on 30 May 2013, in the High Court, Belfast in respect of their conduct as directors of BSLC (Restaurants) Limited (“the Company”).
The Company traded as the restaurant ‘Bourbon’ from Great Victoria Street, Belfast and went into administration on 19 October 2009 with estimated total assets available for preferential creditors of £239,645, liabilities to preferential creditors of £105, liabilities to the floating charge holder of £249,393, liabilities of £487,981 to unsecured creditors, and an estimated deficiency as regards creditors of £497,834. After taking into account the losses incurred by members (the shareholders) of the Company the total estimated deficiency was £497,836.
The matter of unfit conduct alleged by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (the Department) in relation to the directors in respect of their conduct as directors of the Company and accepted by the Court were:
· causing and permitting the Company to retain a sum of £281,627 which was properly payable to the Crown but not paid over consisting of £44,596 in respect of PAYE and £76,310 in respect of NIC for the years 2008/09 and 2009/10; and £160,721 in respect of VAT for the quarterly periods ending 01/09 to 10/09.
The Department has accepted 31 Disqualification Undertakings and the Court has made five 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 8508.
7. The period of disqualification commences at the end of the 21 days beginning with the day the Order was made by the Court.
Belfast Telegraph Digital