Press release

Training company director who owed company £2.6m is disqualified for breach of duty

Gerard Syddall, the founder of Elmfield Training Ltd (Elmfield), one of the UK’s largest providers of apprenticeships and pre-employment training, has been disqualified for a period of six years for breaching his fiduciary duty to the company.

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The company went into administration in November 2013, disclosing liabilities in excess of £13m.

Following an investigation by the Insolvency Service, Mr Syddall, who was adjudged bankrupt in April 2015 on the petition of HMRC, gave a disqualification undertaking to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills, preventing him from acting as a director until February 2022.

Investigators found that in March 2013, when Elmfield was experiencing cashflow difficulties and attempting to negotiate a time-to-pay agreement with a creditor which was not ratified, Mr Syddall gave an undertaking to the Board of directors that he would not use company funds for his own benefit. However Mr Syddall, individuals connected to him, and another company of which he was a director, proceeded to receive payments totalling almost £954,000. When Elmfield went into Administration, Mr Syddall owed the company £2.6m.

Commenting on the disqualification, Robert Clarke, Group Leader of Insolvent Investigations North at The Insolvency Service, said:

Mr Syddall clearly put his own interests ahead of those of the company. To make matters worse, this was after he had vowed to the company’s Board that he would not do this.

Directors of companies should know that this type of conduct is not acceptable and, in such circumstances, the Insolvency Service will take action against them. As a consequence, Mr Syddall has been disqualified for a considerable period of time.

Notes to Editors

Elmfield was incorporated on 25 September 2002. The company’s registered office and trading address was Unit 2 Cinnabar Court, Daresbury Park, Warrington WA4 4GE.

Mr Syddall, of St Helens, Merseyside, formerly of Longsdon, Stoke-on-Trent, was appointed as a director of Elmfield between 25 September 2002 and 27 September 2013.

When Elmfield went into Administration on 04 November 2013, the company disclosed assets estimated to realise £2,034,499 and liabilities of £13,069,961.

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.

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.

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Published 29 January 2016