Halfway House director agrees disqualification

The Halfway House’s Richard Ferris has agreed to a nine-year disqualification prohibiting him from being a company director.

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment accepted a disqualification undertaking from the 50 -year-old Halfway House director - full name, Richard Christopher William Ferris - of The Priory, Dromore.

Proceedings are ongoing against another director.

The Halfway House (Northern Ireland) Limited carried on the business of bar and restaurant from 80 Halfway Road, Banbridge and entered into administration on 10 March 2010 with estimated total assets available to preferential creditors of £46,870, liabilities to preferential creditors of £4,924, liabilities to the floating charge holder of £147,123, liabilities to unsecured creditors of £687,614 and an estimated deficiency as regards creditors of £792,791.

After taking into account the losses incurred by members of the company the total estimated deficiency was £792,793.

The Department accepted the disqualification undertaking fromMr Ferris based on unfit conduct which, solely for the purposes of the disqualification procedure, was not disputed:

It included - causing and permitting the company to be financed by the retention of £410,906 due to the Crown consisting of £71,497 in respect of PAYE and £92,589 in respect of NIC for the years 2008/09 and 2009/10, and £246,820 in respect of VAT for the years 2007/08 to 2009/10; failing to file annual accounts for the company in respect of the period ending 1 August 2001 and the period ending 1 August 2007 on time, and failing to file annual accounts for the period ending 1 August 2008; causing and permitting the company to fail to file annual returns for the periods made up to 1 August 2003, 1 August 2004, 1 August 2007, and 1 August 2008 on time, and to fail to file an annual return for the period made up to 1 August 2009.

Mr Ferris did not accept a number of additional allegations made by the Department.

They were - failing to fully co-operate with the Administrator; failing to act in the best interests of the Company by - i, misrepresenting assets in the financial accounts for the years ended 31 August 2001 and 2002, in that tangible fixed assets with a net book value of over £800,000 were not in the name of the company, ii,causing and permitting the company to have inadequate title to lands on which its trading assets were located, causing part of a buildings extension to be built on lands owned privately by the directors and failing to rectify same, extending the car parking area on to the same land and also locating oil, gas, and septic tanks on this land without ensuring ownership of same or in the alternative without entering into agreements and easements for the use of the land, iii, causing and permitting the company to expend £69,312 of company funds on obtaining planning permission for alterations to the company’s trading premises and to provide an 81-bedroom hotel on lands owned by the company and also on other lands owned privately by the directors.

The Department, however, maintains the allegations and contends that the evidence filed supports and proves the misconduct alleged.

The Department has accepted 11 Disqualification Undertakings and the Court has made four orders disqualifying directors in the financial year commencing 1 April 2014.