Company investigation and directors disqualification proceedings
At Brett Wilson LLP we regularly advise companies and directors subject to an investigation by the Companies Investigation Branch of the Insolvency Service.
Under section 447 of the Companies Act 1985 the Secretary of State can appoint a special investigator and grant him or her authority to compel directors, and others connected with a company, to produce information and documentation relating to a company. Failure to co-operate with an investigator can be treated as a contempt of court.
This far-reaching power is exercised when the Secretary of State considers there to be a ‘good reason’ for doing so - that is when there are grounds for suspecting that the company is being operated contrary to the public interest.
Typically, an investigation will be triggered by the Companies Investigations Branch receiving intelligence or complaints from the general public in relation to the activity of a company.
What could happen as a result?
At best an investigation can be taxing and disruptive to a company’s business. At worst it can lead to a company being wound-up and its directors becoming the subject of a criminal investigation.
At the conclusion of an investigation, one or more of the following may take place:
- An application can be made by the Secretary of State in the High Court for the company to be ‘wound up’ in the public interest.
- Information can be passed on to law enforcement agencies such as the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), National Crime Agency (NCA) or the police (with a view to carrying out a criminal investigation) or regulatory bodies such as the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
- Directors disqualification proceedings can be instigated against the directors and/or senior management of the company.
- No formal action be taken
What we can do for you
At Brett Wilson LLP we have experience in advising and representing companies, directors and senior managers in the context of company investigations, High Court proceedings, directors disqualification proceedings and related criminal proceedings.
Brett Wilson LLP has the specialist expertise to:
- Advise and represent individuals and companies facing an investigation by the Companies Investigations Branch.
- Represent directors and managers at interviews carried out by the Companies Investigations Branch.
- Represent directors and managers in directors’ disqualification proceedings.
- Represent companies in High Court proceedings brought by the Secretary of State.
- Represent directors and managers in any ancillary criminal proceedings.