Company Director Criminal Offence Lawyers & Director Liability Solicitors
As a company director you are bound by a myriad of duties and responsibilities enshrined in law.
You are responsible for the management of your company and have wide powers to enable you to promote it’s success. If it is alleged that those powers have been abused there are serious consequences in the form of fines, a custodial sentence, disqualification from being a director and personal liability for company debts.
If you or your company is under investigation, or you believe may be in the future, contact us now on 07798 905273 for clear, practical advice. Early, focussed expert advice will always ensure a better outcome.
The specialist business and financial crime solicitors at Lupton Fawcett are experts in criminal and regulatory defence for company directors and have the knowledge and experience to protect you and your business.
Our expertise spans regulatory and corporate defence, criminal law, and the full spectrum of financial crimes and corporate fraud.
In the same way as any other member of the public , a company director may face criminal investigation or prosecution for allegations entirely unrelated to their business activities. If you are looking for legal representation from a lawyer with experience and expertise in defending company directors facing all types of criminal charges call Jeremy Scott or Meghan Waldron at Lupton Fawcett on 07798 905273 today.
Personal liability of company directors
With a heightened interest in corporate governance over the last decade, fuelled by high profile cases like BHS, Royal Bank of Scotland, Volkswagen and others, the demand for individuals to be held accountable when companies are alleged to have broken the law has put directors and other officers in the firing line more than ever before.
Consequently, the number of investigations and prosecutions against directors has hugely increased over the last few years.
If you find yourself facing such challenging circumstances, it is vital to seek expert legal advice immediately.
We regularly advise company directors facing investigation or prosecution throughout the UK. We have extensive experience of defending directors in investigations and prosecutions by regulatory bodies or government authorities including
- Environment Agency
- Care Quality Commission
- Insolvency Service
- Trading Standards
- Local Authorities
- Serious Fraud Office
- Information Commissioner’s Office
- CAA Civil Aviation Authority
- DMA Direct Marketing Authority
- CMA Competition and Markets Authority
- FSA Food Standards Agency
- GLAA Gang Masters and Labour Abuse Authority
- ORR Office of Rail Regulation
- Fire and Rescue Services
For an initial discussion about your situation with one of our business, financial crime and criminal defence lawyers call now on 07798 905273 or make an enquiry using the online form.
What are a director’s duties?
The seven primary duties of a company director, as set out in the Companies Act, are:
- To act in accordance with the company’s constitution
- To promote the success of the company which includes acting in the company’s best interests
- To exercise independent judgment
- To exercise reasonable care, skill and diligence
- To avoid conflicts of interest
- Not to accept benefits from third parties and,
- To declare an interest in a proposed transaction or arrangement.
Companies Act & Insolvency Offences
The main piece of legislation governing company law in the UK is the Companies Act 2006. The scope of the Act is very broad, making it one of the longest pieces of legislation ever enacted.
Another piece of legislation which can impact Directors personally is the Insolvency Act 1986 which deals with issues that arise when a company enters insolvency and its affairs are investigated by a liquidator. The insolvency landscape has changed in recent years to enable insolvency practitioners to more effectively pursue rogue directors.
Director’s actions will be closely scrutinised when a company is at risk of insolvency or where authorities suspect that criminal activity has taken place in a business. Directors could face hefty fines, disqualification or imprisonment if they are found to have acted improperly or criminally. In such circumstances, having the right legal defence team in your corner is crucial.
If a company becomes insolvent, and in the preceding period when insolvency is a known possibility, a director must consider the interests of creditors and not take any action which puts the creditors at risk of not being paid. The interests of the creditors must be given priority above those of the shareholders.
Within these Acts there are numerous ways in which company directors can face sanctions, criminal liability or disqualification and the sanctions are severe.
To talk to a lawyer experienced in defending company directors against allegations of any type, contact Lupton Fawcett today on 07798 905273.
Common offences under the Companies Act and Insolvency Act include:
- Fraudulent trading
- Failing to keep proper accounting records
- Unlawfully acquiring own shares
- Reuse of a company name has gone into insolvent liquidation
- Omitting information from a statement relating to a company’s affairs
- Destroying, mutilating or falsifying company records
- Misconduct during the course of a company being wound up.
If a company or a director is suspected of serious corporate abuse it may be investigated by the Insolvency Service. Offences often come to light through third-party reporting, complaints, and when a company enters insolvency. This may reveal serious issues such as fraudulent trading as well as more ‘minor’ offences under the Companies Act 2006 and Insolvency Act 1986.
Fraud Act Offences & Dishonesty
Company directors are effectively the agents of the company, appointed by the shareholders to manage its day-to-day affairs. A key responsibility is to act in the best interests of the company. This duty would clearly be breached in circumstances where the director was found to have been dishonest or acted fraudulently.
Director fraud occurs where a director of a company intentionally uses deception for personal gain.
If convicted a director is likely to face disqualification proceedings, a fine, personal liability for any loss suffered by the company as a result, and possibly a prison sentence. In serious cases, confiscation proceedings may follow the conviction in order to strip the director of their criminal gains using powers under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Common offences under The Fraud Act 2006 and Theft Act 1968 include:
Fraud by false representation
Knowingly making a false representation with the intent of making a gain or causing a loss to another.
Fraud by failing to disclose
Dishonestly failing to disclose information to another person when there is a legal duty to do so.
Fraud by abuse of position
Dishonestly using a privileged position to make personal gain, or cause a loss to another.
Fraud in anticipation of winding up
Knowing that the company is going to be closed down, company property is removed or hidden, false entries are made that impact the company’s status for personal gain.
Where accounting records are falsified, altered, inaccurate or deceptive records with the intent to defraud or deceive.
False statements by company directors
Any instance where a director misleads investors, shareholders, staff or investigators about the business in a way that influences the course of the business or the market.
Any director convicted of an offence under the Companies Act, Insolvency Act, Fraud Act or Theft Act will face potentially serious sanctions.
Consent, Connivance and Negligence
Under English law, a company is a legal person and as such is not treated differently from an actual person in terms of criminal liability.
However, a company will typically only be criminally liable where the offence can be attributed to someone who was at or close to board level at the time.
For personal criminal liability to be established against a director or other officer, this can arise where it can be proved that the director either agreed to, knew about it, or failed to take action to stop or prevent the criminal act.
Consent refers to having knowledge and agreement to the facts amounting to the offence. It is not necessary for the director to realise that the facts he or she was aware of and agreed to amount to a criminal offence.
Connivance is when the director turns a blind eye to the activity in question. Although the director doesn’t actively encourage what happens, they allow it to continue, saying nothing about it.
The third route of establishing personal criminal liability against a director is where the company has committed an offence and it can be shown that this was as a result of neglect on behalf of the director. For example if a company is prosecuted by HSE for failing to ensure, in so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of an employee, and it can be shown that a director or directors breached their duty of care, then the director can be prosecuted and could face a fine, disqualification and/or imprisonment.
If you are a company director facing allegations of a business crime please call the expert lawyers at Lupton Fawcett today on 07798 905273 for confidential advice.
Crime and Company Directors
Having a criminal record does not prevent a person from becoming a company director, unless they were specifically disqualified from being a director as part of the conviction, but it could have a significant impact on the person’s reputation, career and the company they represent.
Directors could find themselves facing criminal charges in areas unrelated to their business with far reaching consequences for their life, liberty and work.
- Driving offences
- Mortgage fraud
- Benefit fraud
- Insurance fraud
- Sexual offences
- Drug offences
- Bounce back loan fraud
With so much at stake, company directors facing a criminal investigation of any type will want the best criminal defence lawyers on their side to protect their interests and achieve the optimal outcome no matter what the circumstances.
If you are the subject of an investigation or you think you may be face one in the future, we strongly recommend that you seek advice from a specialist criminal defence lawyer with experience representing company directors.
At Lupton Fawcett, we regularly advise directors facing allegations of a criminal offence and have built an excellent reputation based on a track record of successful outcomes for our clients.
Within every area of law, we put your interests first.
Our Business & Financial Crime Solicitors act regularly for corporate clients across the United Kingdom including Bradford, Birmingham, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Sheffield, York, and Nottingham.
We can support your needs wherever you live in England and Wales.
We will always respond promptly, and we will be happy to help.
From the moment you instruct us, we help you to understand your professional and personal rights, while also working to protect your business and reputation.
If you or your business need expert legal advice or representation at any stage of an investigation, call Lupton Fawcett today on 07798 905273 or complete our contact form and we’ll call you back.