The order was granted yesterday by Mr Justice Michael Peart against Anthony Dominic Collins and Patricia O’Connell, of Ballycorus Road, Kilternan, Co Dublin, following the bringing of the disqualification proceedings by theDirector of Corporate Enforcement.
Mr Collins and Ms O’Connell were directors of Anderson Kershaw Ltd (AKL) and Anderson Conforming Ltd (ACL), formerly with registered offices at Fitzwilliam Square, Dublin. Both companies have been struck off the register of companies.
The Director of Corporate Enforcement claimed it was clear from books and records of the company that AKL was insolvent at least by August 31, 1997 when its deficit was €81,000 with negligible assets. The director said the company was grossly undercapitalised and relied on sums due to the Revenue for working capital. A judgement for some €274,000 was obtained by the Revenue against the company in July 2003.
The director also said no annual returns whatsoever were filed to ACL and he strongly criticised the respondents’ decision to simply cease operating their business through AKL, and continuing to try and trade through ACL.
The respondents said they believed their accountants were attending to the companies’ affairs and that they had later encountered difficulties engaging other accountants to sort out the problems. They said they encountered a range of other problems and rejected claims that they failed to keep proper books.
Mr Justice Peart said officers, including directors of a company must be aware of their statutory obligations to file annual returns for the company. They could not successfully claim they were unaware that, if returns were not filed for one or more years, the company was at least at risk of being struck off the register.
The statutory requirements of the Companies Acts were not requirements devoid of real purpose, he said. They existed for the protection of creditors so creditors could be aware of the financial status of a company with which they are having dealings.
In this case, it was not disputed these companies had failed to comply with the requirements and it was insufficient for the directors to say they had appointed accountants to take care of all matters for them.
The requirements for a disqualification order had been met in this case, the judge found. There were both aggravating and mitigating factors involved and, in all the circumstances, he believed the disqualification should be for a period of five years.