Whitehall urged to send directors back to school

Rupert Mullins, a senior partner at Bristol accountants BKR Haines Watts, wantscompulsory half-day courses for all new company directors with a strong emphasison what their personal liability will be if the company fails.

Student managing directors would be given an outline of the demands of their newrole and of specific functions, such as company accounts timing and theoperations of PAYE.

The back-to-basics call follows the resignation last week of Bristol CityFootball manager Tony Fawthrop after revelations that he owed in excess of£200,000 as the director of a failed Dorset-based vehicle hire company.Mullins labelled Fawthrop, who claimed he was a ‘sleeping partner’, as ‘a bitna‹ve’.

‘The episode highlights the problems in the UK of many directors’ ignorance oftheir duties and liabilities,’ explained Mullins. ‘My idea of a half-day coursewould combat this.’

The government overhaul of the bankruptcy law in its Insolvency Bill due backnext month from consultation aims to encourage enterprise and the ‘rescueculture’.

‘Yet at present virtually anyone can become a company director without anyqualification,’ he added.

He called for the directors’ qualification scheme to be set-up as atax-allowable expense costing no more than £500 a head in conjunction with theConfederation of British Industry, the Institute of Directors and the Departmentof Trade and Industry.

‘In particular they would be advised of the definition of insolvency, and whatthey should do when faced with it.’

He added that attendance should be registered at Companies House, with furthertraining when a expands to certain sizes or receives stock market listing.

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