Directors Duties Include Acting With Due Care And Skill
Overview Of ASIC Disqualifies Victorian Director From Managing Companies
Anthony Ronald Lawless of Maribyrnong, Victoria, has been disqualified from managing corporations for eighteen months after his involvement in three failed companies.
Mr Lawless was a director of three companies that went into liquidation in 2018 and 2020:
- Lawless Group Pty Ltd ACN 111 524 282 (Lawless Group);
- 4D Joinery Pty Ltd ACN 615 220 892 (4D Joinery); and
- Boulderstone Concrete Pty Ltd ACN 615 220 909 (Boulderstone).
- Lawless Group operated as a building company, 4D Joinery and Boulderstone provided joinery and concreting services.
ASIC’s investigation found that Mr Lawless failed to:
- ensure Lawless Group and 4D Joinery complied with their obligations to pay employee superannuation entitlements;
- understand his obligations and duties as director of Lawless Group;
- act with the required degree of care and diligence in respect of Lawless Group by incorrectly accounting for payments totalling $491,918.82; and
- prevent Lawless Group and 4D Joinery from incurring debts when the companies may have been trading while insolvent.
The total amount owed to creditors across all three companies was $6,576,664.56, including $1,439,462.95 owed to the Australian Taxation Office.
In making the decision to disqualify Mr Lawless, ASIC relied on the supplementary reports lodged by the liquidators of Lawless Group and 4D Joinery. ASIC assisted the liquidators to prepare supplementary reports by providing funding from the Assetless Administration Fund.
Mr Lawless is disqualified from managing corporations until 21 February 2023.
At the heart of this case appeared to have been a suggestion that the Director had not acted with due care and skill. A Director has a duty in UK law to act as such and promote the prosperity of the company in accordance with Section 172 of the Companies Act 2006. Although this was an Australian disqualification case there are similarities in UK law with how Directors have a duty to act.
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