HomeFWJ takeawayTakeawayDirector disqualification claimsDealing with early Insolvency Service enquiriesDirector disqualification – the early stages of the process

Properly understanding the merits of the director disqualification claim against you at an early stage is a vital part of reaching the best possible solution for you. Our team has specialised in disqualification claims since 2002 and has successfully helped 100s directors over the years. Let us help you too.

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A company director we successfully defended against disqualification

The director disqualification process usually commences with enquiries from the Insolvency Service in to the company which entered into liquidation.

Those director disqualification enquiries usually concentrate on areas such as

However, those director disqualification enquiries can cover a wide range of different subjects depending very much upon the nature of the potential director disqualification allegations which the Insolvency Service is considering.

The initial enquiries can take the form of a simple director disqualification letter but commonly, take the form of a director disqualification questionnaire.

Formal questionnaire – avoid common mistakes

Formal questionnaires cover all aspects of the former business including in particular

  • who was responsible for the management of the company;
  • who was responsible for the finances of the company;
  • were there any external advisers; and
  • seeking an explanations in respect of various individual transactions which it might be looking at more carefully.

With director disqualification questionnaires, it is important to seek proper advice on these.

  • a well worded set of responses can make all the difference;
  • often, directors with the best of intentions complete the forms and send them back but inadvertently harm their position and more often than not, find that the answers are used as part of the evidence against them in later proceedings;
  • a common question which trips up directors is one along the lines of “In your opinion, why did the company go insolvent”.

Careful attention needs to be given to answering those questions which the Insolvency Service often ask in order to trip up directors so that they can bring proceedings against them.

Section 16 letter

Often, correspondence will go back and forth between the Insolvency Service and the director or his/her legal adviser.

If the matter is incapable of resolution prior to formal proceedings, the Secretary of State will send what is called a section 16 letter.

  • this is a letter sent pursuant to Section 16 of the Company Director disqualification Act 1986;
  • it sets out a summary of the director disqualification allegations against the director;
  • it states that in their view a director disqualification order is likely;
  • the letter always offers a voluntary director disqualification undertaking to the director which can be accepted in lieu of formal legal proceedings against the director.

Take advice before agreeing a disqualification undertaking

Many directors believe that they have no alternative but to accept this voluntary disqualification undertaking but this is not the case.

  • just because the Secretary of State has set out its grounds for unfitness, does not mean that a director disqualification is necessarily likely;
  • even if it is, it can often be for a lesser time than the period on offer. Again, expert director disqualification solicitor advice should be sought at this stage.

Ask to see the draft evidence against you

After receipt of the director disqualification Section 16 letter, it is possible to ask for the draft director disqualification affidavit evidence from the Secretary of State to be sent through.

We would always recommend this as otherwise, the director only has very sketchy and limited information relating to the allegations of unfitness. The actual draft evidence which the Secretary of State is obliged to provide upon request or set out in far more detail the allegations against a particular director. It is very useful to ask for this because commonly, it will not have been prepared and the Secretary of State will have to go away and do more work to prepare it. Secondly, it will allow the director and/or its legal advisers to properly consider the nature of the director disqualification claims against the director.

We would always recommend doing this as otherwise, you risk giving a voluntary director disqualification undertaking in circumstances where the evidence simply does not support that.


Francis Wilks & Jones is the county’s leading firm of director disqualification solicitors. We are genuine experts in what we do with a combined experience of over 75 years in director disqualification proceedings. Contact one of our friendly expert solicitors now for your consultation.

I was greatly impressed with the commercial, tactical and technical ability of the team at FWJ. They quickly got to grips with a complex set of facts and, through their hard work, had the proceedings against me dropped and a significant proportion of my legal fees repaid. I couldn’t recommend them highly enough

A director we defended against a disqualification claim and other claims brought by a liquidator

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