Directors must pay more than £180,000 after setting up company while banned  

Bradford Crown Court

Two directors of an industrial laundry installation firm who set up a “phoenix” company while disqualified from running a business have been fined a total of £182,700.

Colin Marsh, 54, and Robert Farrell, 53, both from Halifax, appeared at Bradford Crown Court, where Marsh was ordered to repay £133,000 within three months or face 18 months in prison and Farrell was ordered to pay just over £49,700 over the same period or face nine months in prison.

The pair were directors of Direct Laundry Installations Limited, based in Halifax, which supplied and fitted trade laundry installations, before it went into liquidation in October 2015.

But before the company’s liquidation, they set up a second company, Direct Laundry and Steam Installations Limited.

In setting up the new company, the directors breached insolvency law as the business had a similar name, traded from the same address, and carried out the same activities as the liquidated company.

The two were convicted of acting as directors while disqualified and using a prohibited company name in February 2022.

Investigators from the Insolvency Service’s Financial Investigation Unit then carried out further probes and in December 2023, Bradford Crown Court ordered that the money the pair had gained improperly should be confiscated.

Alexander Grierson, senior accredited financial investigator at the Insolvency Service, said:  “Directors of an insolvent company are not allowed to start a new company with the same or similar name, in order to protect businesses and customers from being duped by directors who fail to run a business in a professional manner.

“Colin Marsh and Robert Farrell abused the insolvency regime when they incorporated an almost-identical second company while they were in the throes of winding-up the first failed business.

“Their conduct was totally reckless and their punishment should serve as a warning that we will prosecute and seek appropriate confiscation from company directors who break the law.”