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Leading the way on director disqualification claims since 2002, our team is the No. 1 provider of legal advice in the UK. Whatever your situation, our defence experts can help. Even if you are already disqualified, our team has a 100% track record in applications to become a director again. Whatever your situation, speak to one of our team before making a decision on your claim. You won't regret it.

Director disqualification proceedings

Our director disqualification team is headed up by partner Stephen Downie.

Drawing not only on his legal experience, but also from his time at the Insolvency Service and by qualifying as an accountant, Stephen has built up a formidable team capable of defending any type of disqualification claim or investigation by the Secretary of State. His team has helped advise and defend 100s of directors on disqualification related matters, getting many back on their feet and going on to pursue successful careers.

Their experience also extends to dealing with other types of claims commonly associated with director disqualification proceedings, such as claims by liquidators and / or administrators.

One of the most astute appointments I have ever made

A company director we successfully defended against disqualification

Whatever your enquiry, we can assist. Some of the areas we assist in are set out below in more detail.

Dealing with early enquiries by the Insolvency Service

Disqualification claims often start with an often innocent looking letter or questionnaire from the Insolvency Service asking about the company which went in to liquidation. We can help with these crucial early enquiries by the Insolvency Service.

However, for the best of intentions, directors often respond without realising that their answers can then be used against them in legal proceedings. Early legal advice on these questionnaires and enquiries can make all the difference between the claim disappearing or becoming a formal set of legal proceedings.

Section 16 letters

A section 16 letter is the first formal contact you will receive from the Secretary of State indicating formal investigation by the Insolvency Service. Early advice can be critical in dealing with these methods properly. Even though the letter states that formal proceedings are likely, it is still possible to get the threat dropped. Or alternatively deal with the matter by way of a voluntary disqualification undertaking.

Disqualification undertakings

Disqualification undertakings are a straightforward way of accepting a period of disqualification. However, legal advice is vital to avoid common mistakes and potentially leave yourself open for a compensation order – meaning a claim against you personally to pay significant money back to the insolvent company.

It is also always sensible to try and negotiate the period of disqualification offered downwards. It can have major implications later on, for example, if a new career opportunity arises and you need to apply to court for permission to become a director despite the disqualification order.

Compensation orders

Compensation orders were introduced as part of important changes in 2015 to the disqualification legislation. It means that directors may find themselves personally liable for paying compensation back to a company if they are disqualified. These are by compensation orders. It is vital to try and take advice before giving director disqualification undertakings to avoid potential personal liability later on in the form of a compensation order.

These claims can be defended or negotiated by our expert legal team.

Disqualification in the Magistrates Court

It is possible to be disqualified in the Magistrates Court for failure to file accounts and other statutory information. These cases are usually heard in Cardiff Magistrates Court.

We can provide expert assistance in defending such cases and the partner heading the disqualification team is based in Cardiff – meaning attendance is very straighforward.  

Common allegations of misconduct leading to director disqualification

We provide many directors with advice on what the most common allegations of misconduct which lead to disqualification. And whether they might be liable to disqualification for their action or inaction.

  • we can do this at any time for directors – even if a threat of disqualification has not yet materialised
  • often directors in companies facing solvency issues are worried about their position and what actions to take. Early advice at this stage can help directors avoid making mistakes which lead to later disqualification

But even if you have been approached by the Insolvency Service or Secretary of State, our team can quickly advise on whether the allegations made are likely to succeed or can be defended.

Obtaining court permission to remain as a director despite a disqualification order

It is possible to remain acting as a director despite disqualification. Many directors facing disqualification (or who have already been disqualified) do not realise this option is available. It can make a huge difference to someone’s current and future career prospects. But careful planning and expertise is needed to succeed in these applications.

These applications are commonly known as “Section 17 applicationsand our firm boasts a 100% record going back to 2002 in obtaining court permission for directors to remain acting as a director despite a formal disqualification order or undertaking.

No other firm comes near in terms of our expertise on these applications. We have successfully helped many directors continue acting as directors in the management of a company, despite the threat of disqualification. Our experts can review your situation and help you avoid common mistakes which will prohibit you from making these types of applications – now or in the future. It is always sensible to future proof your career options as much as possible, even if the current situation seems bleak. We can do this for you.

Public interest winding up petitions and disqualification

Sometimes, companies are threatened with a winding up order in the public interest. These are winding up petitions commenced by the Secretary of State on the grounds of trying to protect the public from a type of wrongdoing. They are by their nature very serious applications.

Not only can we help defend the winding up petition proceedings but also any disqualification proceedings and claims by insolvency practitioners which inevitably follow if the company is in fact wound up in the public interest.

Director disqualification solicitors

At Francis Wilks & Jones, we have considerable experience in dealing with all aspects of director disqualification, from the initial correspondence to the trial of a disqualification claim and everything in between. Should you require any assistance, please contact our director services team who can discuss such matters with you.

I would strongly recommend using FWJ for director disqualification matters. Tactically and commercially they played it just right and I am now able to get on with my business life without the worry of disqualification hanging over me.

A director we defended against a disqualification claim

Consequences of director disqualification

There are serious personal consequences of disqualification for any individual banned from being a director. These include:

Our director services team are experts in advising on all the ramifications of a disqualification order and how best to protect a director from the worst consequences. Good planning coupled with our expert legal advice can often head off many of these threatened claims.

Key contacts

Maria Koureas-Jones

Maria Koureas-Jones


Carly Moore-Martin

Carly Moore-Martin

Senior Associate

Stephen Downie

Stephen Downie


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Case studies

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