Press release

Brentwood solicitor banned for five years for tax failings

Elizabeth Cousins, a Brentwood solicitor and former principal partner of Scannells Hunt LLP, has been disqualified as a director for five years after non-payment of a Crown debt of over £200,000.

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Ms Cousins (58), has given an undertaking to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills, which means that she is prevented for 5 years until June 2020, from becoming involved in the promotion, formation or management of a company.

The disqualification follows an investigation by the Insolvency Service.

Scannells Hunt LLP was placed in liquidation on 21 November 2012 with a tax liability of over £238,709 to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) still owing. In signing her disqualification undertaking, Ms Cousins admitted that she had failed to ensure Scannells Hunt LLP complied with its statutory obligation and had caused it to trade to the detriment of HMRC.

Mark Bruce, Chief Investigator, Investigation and Enforcement Services at the Insolvency Service, said:

The Insolvency Service will rigorously pursue persons who seek to undermine the tax system by attempting to avoid their statutory obligations to HMRC.

Limited liability protection is a privilege to ensure businesses trade in an open and fair market. Such protection is only available to those who comply with their obligations. If those obligations are ignored, that protection will be withdrawn.

Notes to Editors

Scannells Hunt LLP (Scannells) was incorporated on 11 September 2008 and was placed into Voluntary Liquidation on 21 November 2012.

Ms Elizabeth B A Cousins provided a disqualification undertaking to the Secretary of State on 1 June 2015. The disqualification commences on 22 June 2015. Her date of birth is 10 June 1957.

Scannells traded as a solicitor’s firm from premises at Parker House, 104 Heath Road, Shenfield, Brentwood, Essex.

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 22 June 2015