Companies Act, 1990

Personal liability of officers of company where proper books of account not kept.

204.—(1) Subject to subsection (2), if—

(a) a company that is being wound up and that is unable to pay all of its debts has contravened section 202 , and

(b) the court considers that such contravention has contributed to the company's inability to pay all of its debts or has resulted in substantial uncertainty as to the assets and liabilities of the company or has substantially impeded the orderly winding up thereof,

the court, on the application of the liquidator or any creditor or contributory of the company, may, if it thinks it proper to do so, declare that any one or more of the officers and former officers of the company who is or are in default shall be personally liable, without any limitation of liability, for all, or such part as may be specified by the court, of the debts and other liabilities of the company.

(2) On the hearing of an application under this subsection, the person bringing the application may himself give evidence or call witnesses.

(3) (a) Where the court makes a declaration under subsection (1), it may give such directions as it thinks proper for the purpose of giving effect to the declaration and in particular may make provision for making the liability of any such person under the declaration a charge on any debt or obligation due from the company to him, or on any mortgage or charge or any interest in any mortgage or charge on any assets of the company held by or vested in him or any company or other person on his behalf, or any person claiming as assignee from or through the person liable under the declaration or any company or person acting on his behalf, and may from time to time make such furtherorder as may be necessary for the purpose of enforcing any charge imposed under this subsection.

(b) In paragraph (a) “assignee” includes any person to whom or in whose favour, by the directions of the person liable, the debt, obligation, mortgage or charge was created, issued or transferred or the interest created, but does not include an assignee for valuable consideration (not including consideration by way of marriage) given in good faith and without notice of any of the matters on the ground of which the declaration is made.

(4) The court shall not make a declaration under subsection (1) in respect of a person if it considers that—

(a) he took all reasonable steps to secure compliance by the company with section 202 , or

(b) he had reasonable grounds for believing and did believe that a competent and reliable person, acting under the supervision or control of a director of the company who has been formally allocated such responsibility, was charged with the duty of ensuring that that section was complied with and was in a position to discharge that duty.

(5) This section shall have effect notwithstanding that the person concerned may be criminally liable in respect of the matters on the ground of which the declaration is to be made.

(6) In this section “officer”, in relation to a company, includes a person who has been convicted of an offence under section 194 , 197 or 242 in relation to a statement concerning the keeping of proper books of account by the company.