The sentencing council have published sentencing guidelines for the offence of acting as a company director whilst being disqualified from doing so, effective from the 1st October 2018.

The guidelines set out in a matrix the factors the court must consider before passing sentence and these act as a salutary and timely reminder to those who should not otherwise be involved in the running of a company. The maximum penalty is 2 years imprisonment.

The Court looks at culpability and harm before going onto consider aggravating and mitigating features.

So far as culpability is concerned the most serious offences are those involving deceit or dishonesty in relation to the actual role within the company, or where the breach involves deliberate concealment of the disqualified status of the director.

In relation to harm, the most serious cases are those where the breach results in significant risk of or actual serious financial loss, or where the breach results in a significant risk of or actual serious non-financial harm to the company or organisation, or others. The least serious cases are those where the breach results in very low risk or little or no harm (financial or non-financial) to the company, organisation or others.

Among the aggravating features the Court takes into consideration are where the activity: continued after warnings were received; shortly after an order was made; continued over a sustained period of time; involved acting as a director in multiple companies; the breach is motivated by personal gain, or the breach was committed on licence or whilst subject to post sentence supervision.

Mitigating features are taken into account and credit is given to those who decide to plead guilty early in the proceedings. The Court should also consider whether to make compensation and/or ancillary orders.

These sentencing guidelines are straight forward and will help to ensure a consistent approach is taken to sentencing.