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Former England player, manager and pundit John Barnes has been banned from serving as a company director for 3.5 years after his company, John Barnes Media Limited, failed to pay over £190,000 in tax.

According to an investigation by HMRC, despite a turnover of £441,798 between November 2018 and October 2020 the company did not pay any VAT or corporation tax. Barnes was the sole director of the company, which was described as offering media representation services. The company was wound up in March 2023, with HMRC listed as its only creditor.

So what does such a disqualification mean?

When a court has made a disqualification order against you under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 (CDDA), or you have given a disqualification undertaking to the Secretary of State, as in Barnes’ case, you cannot be involved in the promotion, formation or management of a company, without the permission of the court.

This disqualification goes far beyond changing your job title on Linkedin. It extends to a prevention from taking any part in forming a new company, including being involved in raising capital before one is formed, and being concerned in the management of any company. This can include day to day tasks performed below director level such as renting premises, negotiating with suppliers or dealing with the company’s bank account. Further, you cannot get others to manage or direct a company under your instruction or act as a management consultant to it.

Contravening such an order or undertaking is a criminal offence resulting in a fine or prison sentence of up to 2 years. It can also lead to prosecutions for anyone who has assisted you in the contravention.

There are many further restrictions on disqualified people, such as acting as a registered social landlord or acting in relation to school governance . Your status may also affect your membership to a professional body, e.g. the Financial Conduct Authority, the Solicitors Regulation Authority or Health and Care Professions Council.

According to Mike Smith, Chief Investigator at the Insolvency Service: ‘This disqualification should serve as a deterrent to other directors that if you do not pay your taxes while directing money elsewhere, you are at risk of being banned’. And that is a ban not to be taken lightly.

To understand how an order might affects you, please contact Julie Spencer on 01727 229319 or jsx@debenhamsottaway.co.uk who will be able to assist you.


The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.