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The Analysis News & Opinions


New year disqualification for wedding venue director


A director of an Exeter wedding venue firm has been disqualified for nine years after continuing to accept payments despite knowing the company was insolvent. Incorporated in October 2014, Mamhead


House And Castle Limited (MHAC) was a company that organised events, while also managing the wedding venue, Mamhead House. The venue, a former country house in rural Devon, had been the destination for high-profile celebrity weddings. Richard Stuart Fuller (56), of Crockham


Hill, Kent, was appointed a director in May 2015 but just over a year later, MHAC entered into creditors voluntary liquidation in November 2016 to shut down the company. Independent liquidators were appointed


to wind-up the company and reported to the Insolvency Service that MHAC had continued to accept deposits from customers after the point it was in trouble. Investigations discovered that in the


January before the company closed down, four creditors had obtained judgments against MHAC, followed by two further judgments in March 2016. The company, however, could not afford


to pay the judgments and Mr Fuller caused MHAC to enter into a payment agreement in order to clear the company’s debts. Further enquiries found that from October


2015, MHAC’s bank statements showed that items were being returned unpaid to the suppliers as there were insufficient funds available. During this time, Mr Fuller also issued cheques even though he knew the funds in MHAC’s account were insufficient to honour them. Although Mr Fuller knew MHAC could


not meet its debts and between February and September 2016 the company incurred losses, he caused MHAC to take deposits from customers and continued trading at the risk of the company’s creditors. Many


SMEs show uncertainty


UK small firms have raised concerns about weak economic growth, consumer demand, and high lending rates after the failed Brexit deal vote. Amid persistent political uncertainty, the


Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Small Business Index found that the domestic economy was flagged more often as a growth constraint by small businesses than any other common barrier to expansion. Close to six in 10 (58%) say it is a significant barrier to growth, up from 55% at this time last year. Access to appropriately skilled staff (36%),


February 2019


lack of consumer demand (29%) and labour costs (21%) are also frequently flagged as primary barriers to growth. The index’s headline measure of UK


small business confidence has fallen to -9.9, the lowest level since the wake of the financial crash in 2011. Two thirds (67%) of small firms do not expect their performance to improve this quarter. Small businesses in the accommodation


and food services (-48%), retail (-44%), and manufacturing (-16%) sectors report some of the lowest SBI readings.


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of these creditors were customers who had contracted the company to organise an event for them. At liquidation, customers were owed just


under £295,000 but only approximately £205,000 was paid after the company was made insolvent. On 11 December 2018, the Secretary of


State accepted a disqualification undertaking from Richard Stuart Fuller, after he admitted putting customers at unreasonable risk of loss by continuing to accept deposits after January 2016 when he knew that the company was insolvent. Effective from 1 January 2019, he is


banned for nine years from directly or indirectly becoming involved, without the permission of the court, in the promotion, formation or management of a company. Dave Elliott, chief examiner for the


Insolvency Service, said: “Richard Fuller was fully aware the company was struggling to pay its debts and could not afford to continue trading. But this did not deter him from taking new deposits from customers, even though their money was at risk. “This ban should serve as a warning to


other directors tempted to abuse clients and neglect their duties that they could be investigated and lose the privilege of limited liability trading.”


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