Back in the real world, we can identify yet another built-in-destabiliser in the Irish economy. This time, it is one that says to any would be entrepreneur, 'angel' investor/director, or seasoned executive with non-director potential DON'T RISK IT. Leave directorships and all that messy, risky business to the poor patsies who don't have any choice: sure the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (real business-friendly that) will put manners on them. It's a destabiliser which also says: if there is the slightest doubt your business won't survive do everything NOW to avoid that outcome and a trip to the High Court (where you will be guilty until proven innocent) by laying off staff, screwing suppliers and borrowing as little as possible. Any wonder that the latest NCB Services Index shows employment intentions on the part of service sector employers falling off a cliff.
But it also got me wondering if, say, our cabinet ministers were directors of a company rather than a country what their legal liabilities might be? According to the ODCE's guide to the duties and powers of directors we learn that:
The Court has the discretion to disqualify a person for such period as it deems fit where that person, while acting as director, promoter, auditor, officer, receiver, liquidator, or examiner of a company has been guilty of any of the following:Looking at yesterday's end of year Exchequer Returns, I'm beginning to wonder what the definition of 'reckless governing' might look like. Maybe we need an Office of the Director of Political Enforcement?
(a) a fraud in relation to the company, its members or creditors;
(b) a breach of duty in relation to the company;
(c) conduct which makes them unfit to be concerned with the management of a company or fraudulent or reckless trading which resulted in a declaration of personal liability for some or all of the debts of the company;
(d) persistent default in relation to obligation under the Companies Acts. Persistent default is defined as being conclusively proven where in any five year period a person has been guilty of three or more defaults;
(e) two or more offences of failure to maintain proper books of account;
(f) in the case of a director of an insolvent company, failure to file all outstanding annual returns on request and the company is struck off the register of companies as a result.