Thursday, 29 January 2015

Disqualification Following Convictions Abroad

This is part of a series of blogs on the Small Business, Enterprise & Employment Bill (“the Bill”) that is proposed to come into force in April 2015.

The Bill has introduced new dimensions into director disqualification, in terms of an individual being disqualified from acting as a director as a result of non-UK convictions. This only applies to convictions which are comparable to indictable offences in the UK. An indictable offence is a criminal offence that can be tried in the Crown Court (rather than a less serious summary offence, which is normally considered in the Magistrates Court).

This presents an entirely new range of disqualification claims which may be made by the Secretary of State against directors, in a similar way to current disqualification claims, solely on the basis of non-UK offences. This will obviously present difficulties in defending such claims, collating the evidence in answer, dealing with technical aspects relating to the original jurisdiction and human rights aspects.
The proposed amendment also provides for individuals to offer disqualification undertakings upon receiving notice of such steps (usually with a view to avoiding legal costs).
This will have incredible consequences for UK directors who may be involved in international companies and who may now be potentially disqualified despite having a clean record in the UK.
Should you require advice on this, or consider that this may impact on you or your clients, please contact Francis Wilks & Jones and we can assist by reference to our long history of dealing with director disqualification matters.