Press release

Bradford director disqualified for allowing company to breach consumer protection laws

Matthew Martin Preston, 33, the sole director of Smartcoat Ltd has been disqualified for 9 years for allowing the company to engage in sales practices that breached consumer protection legislation.

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The disqualification follows an investigation by the Insolvency Service.

Matthew Preston’s has given an undertaking to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skill, which prevents him from becoming directly or indirectly involved in the promotion, formation or management of a company for 9 years from 24 October 2014.

Smartcoat Ltd claimed to provide an insulating paint service to extend the lives of roofs and cut heat loss by up to 25%. The company’s sales teams engaged in sales practices that breached consumer protection legislation, in that vulnerable members of the public, particularly the elderly, were subjected to pressurised and/or aggressive sales practices; they were denied their cancellation rights by work starting before the time period had expired; information provided was inaccurate or misleading and work was carried out to a poor standard.

The company were advised of concerns by Trading Standards at a meeting in March 2011, following a series of complaints but failed to take appropriate actions leading to more than 70 further complaints of a similar nature.

Robert Clarke, Group Leader of Insolvent Investigations North, which is part of The Insolvency Service said:

Directors of companies that allow their sales staff to target and exploit vulnerable members of the public to achieve sales can expect their actions to be vigorously investigated by the Insolvency Service once the company enters liquidation.

The length of the disqualification sends a clear message to others of how seriously such misconduct is considered by the Secretary of State and that it will be firmly dealt with.

The company also claimed to offer a 10-year insurance backed guarantee but failed to purchase this for over 200 customers and alleged it was a member of various trade associations at a time when the company’s membership had been suspended.

Notes to editors

Matthew Martin Preston is of Leeds and his date of birth is 24 April 1981.

Smartcoat Ltd (CRO. No. 07069195) entered Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation on 13 July 2012 with a deficiency to creditors of £1,347,314. Smartcoat Ltd provided a roof coating service that claimed to provide insulating properties.

A disqualification order has the effect that without specific permission of a court, a person with a disqualification cannot:

  • act as a director of a company
  • take part, directly or indirectly, in the promotion, formation or management of a company or limited liability partnership
  • be a receiver of a company’s property

In addition that person cannot act as an insolvency practitioner and there are many other restrictions are placed on disqualified directors by other regulations.

Disqualification undertakings are the administrative equivalent of a disqualification order but do not involve court proceedings.

Further information on director disqualifications and restrictions is available.

The Insolvency Service administers the insolvency regime, investigating all compulsory liquidations and individual insolvencies (bankruptcies) through the Official Receiver to establish why they became insolvent. It may also use powers under the Companies Act 1985 to conduct confidential fact-finding investigations into the activities of live limited companies in the UK. In addition, the agency authorises and regulates the insolvency profession, deals with disqualification of directors in corporate failures, assesses and pays statutory entitlement to redundancy payments when an employer cannot or will not pay employees, provides banking and investment services for bankruptcy and liquidation estate funds and advises ministers and other government departments on insolvency law and practice.

Further information about the work of the Insolvency Service, and how to complain about financial misconduct, is available.

Published 30 January 2015