How secure is your company?

A few years ago I asked an audience, “How many of you are self-employed?”  I followed that by then asking, “How many of you set up in business and planned to fail?”

The fact remains we do not set up a business with a view it will fail sometime in the future.  So, why is it we do not take steps to protect our company from any unfortunate incident that may fall upon its leaders?  Possibly because the UK business person is universally recognised as the poorest when it comes to discussing incapacity, or worse.

Perhaps 99.9% of companies that are incorporated adopt the standard articles of association (“Articles”) which governs the company in terms of directorships, voting and all other specific areas of corporate governance as laid down by the Companies Act.

Recently, I was asked to advise where the company operated with a sole director and shareholder.  Unfortunately, that director was injured in an accident, incurring a serious head injury.  As a result, personal injury claims were being prepared, which included a doctor providing a report stating the director was suffering from mental incapacity.  The problem is the Articles state:

“A person ceases to be a director as soon as—

(d) a registered medical practitioner who is treating that person gives a written opinion to the company stating that that person has become physically or mentally incapable of acting as a director and may remain so for more than three months;”

Taking the above into account that particular company now has nobody with authority to operate the business and without  applying to court for the appointment of a personal representative (which can take several months) it is rapidly descending into a financial chasm, leading to its eventual demise.

The above should be a telling tale, if not a warning, for all those small, single director companies.  You should ensure there is a second director registered at Companies House.  This could be your spouse, although couples do have a tendency of travelling together so, try to consider a different person.  Alternatively (or simultaneously) consider a power of attorney whereby someone has the power to protect the company’s interests by (say) appointing a replacement director or being able to ensure trading can be sustained, thus protecting the share value, being a legacy you may wish to leave for your surviving family members.  It is also worth considering appropriate insurance protection as key personnel invariably need to be replaced if the business is to remain viable.

Should you have an insolvency-related issue or a corporate dispute then please contact Gary Pettit at PBC Business Recovery & Insolvency on (01604) 212150 (Northampton office) or (01234) 834886 (Bedford office). Alternatively, you may send an email to garypettit@pbcbusinessrecovery.co.uk or access our website at www.pbcbusinessrecovery.co.uk