Commercial Feature : Business News

The CEA – The Directors’ Disqualification Regime

Aoife McPartland, Senior Enforcement Manager, Corporate Enforcement Authority

Ireland’s company law used to rely exclusively on criminal law for sanctioning misbehaviour among company directors. As Ireland’s business landscape developed, measures to sanction directors’ misconduct diversified to include disqualification and restriction of directors (McGrath, 2019). Disqualification is crucial for sanctioning director misbehaviour.

Under section 160 of the Companies Act 1990 (the 1990 Act), disqualification applied automatically to those convicted of an indictable offence involving fraud or dishonesty. A court could order the disqualification of a person who breached their directors’ duties, was convicted of fraudulent trading, or persistently defaulted on their obligations under the Companies Acts, among other reasons.

Aoife McPartland, CEA

The Company Law Enforcement Act 2001 (the 2001 Act) expanded grounds for disqualification to include those guilty of failing to keep proper books of account two or more times, directors of companies struck off the Register of Companies for failing to file annual returns with the CRO, and where they were disqualified in another State and the Irish courts are satisfied it is also appropriate that they be disqualified in Ireland. The 2001 Act also allowed for restriction to be ordered in place of disqualification where appropriate.

Under the Companies Act 2014 (the 2014 Act), disqualification can be automatic, deemed, and discretionary. Disqualification undertakings were also introduced under the 2014 Act, where a director consents, without a court hearing, to being disqualified when invited to do so by the Corporate Enforcement Authority (CEA) (see section 852 of the 2014 Act). The CEA published an information note in April outlining the significant consequences of disqualification. The types of undesirable behaviour tackled by the disqualification regime have noticeably expanded between 1928 and 2014. In 2022, 4,298 names were entered on the Register of Disqualified Persons maintained by the Companies Registration Office (CRO). An understanding of this past may guide where disqualification goes in the future.

Read: CEA’s Guidance regarding disqualification under company law Information Note 2024/1 on


Hughes & Associates: Leading the Way in Commercial Litigation

The past 12 months have been exceptionally positive for award-winning boutique commercial law firm Hughes & Associates Solicitors. Based in Temple Bar, the firm specialises exclusively in litigation, with a particular emphasis on commercial litigation and High Court litigation.

Established by Daniel Hughes, this niche legal practice has experienced significant growth and success. The firm has strategically invested in various litigation sectors, witnessing a notable increase in new instructions from the SME sector. These instructions predominantly involve commercial and shareholder disputes, with the firm often representing companies or individual shareholders, including minority shareholders. Acting in several landmark cases in the High Court and the Court of Appeal has further solidified the firm’s reputation in these areas.

Another key growth area has been insolvency-related instructions, received primarily from accountants nationwide on behalf of their clients. Over the last six months, there has been a significant uptick in insolvency instructions, especially from smaller businesses within the SME sector seeking advice on liquidation.

Attributes of an Outstanding Commercial Solicitor

Daniel Hughes, Hughes & Associates

Hughes comments: “An effective commercial solicitor must possess strong communication skills, providing clear and concise advice. In commercial litigation, it is crucial to quickly identify and understand the core issues, offering guidance while recognising all key legal variables. Business acumen is also essential, as solicitors need to understand the daily challenges faced by businesses. Successful commercial solicitors have the foresight to anticipate potential issues and navigate complex scenarios adeptly.”

Business Confidence Amid Economic Uncertainty

Ireland’s economy experienced a slowdown in 2023, with a steady pace expected through 2024 and 2025. Despite these economic challenges, Hughes is confident: “Business will remain generally strong, though there are notable concerns among business owners within the SME sector. Personally, I foresee a significant increase in insolvencies by autumn 2024. It is crucial that full support is extended to the SME sector as it is vital to the overall economy.”

While challenges remain, Hughes & Associates is well-positioned to navigate the evolving legal landscape. With a focus on delivering exceptional service and strategic growth, the firm remains committed to meeting the needs of its clients and maintaining its strong performance in the litigation sector, with the principles of professionalism, confidentiality, and integrity to the fore.

13 Eustace Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2, D02 T853

Tel: 01 891 0020




Enterprise Ireland’s 2024 Innovation Arena Awards at the National Ploughing Championships

Final applications are now being accepted by Enterprise Ireland (EI) for this year’s Innovation Arena Awards, which will return to the 2024 National Ploughing Championships (NPC). The Innovation Arena, hosted in partnership with the National Ploughing Association (NPA), is an annual exhibition platform showcasing cutting-edge solutions from Irish agritech companies to thousands of visitors at one of Europe’s largest outdoor events.

The 2024 Innovation Arena will focus on ‘Innovations for Future Generations’. James Maloney, Senior Development Adviser, EI noted: “We are particularly interested in learning more about pioneering innovations and solutions which address issues across animal science and technology, agri-engineering, digital technologies, animal health and nutrition, sustainability and climate action, and farm health and safety.”

Applications for the Innovation Arena Awards, to be held on the first day of the NPC, will close on Friday, June 7, at 5pm. Entries are invited from Irish-owned companies, research institutions and academia, presenting pioneering innovations with the potential to optimise and future-proof the agriculture sector. Successful applicants will secure an exhibition spot within the Innovation Arena.

This year, there are three award categories, including a new competition where three finalists will pitch their innovations to a panel of judges in front of a live audience. The winner will be named ‘Start-Up Innovator of the Year’ and receive a €10,000 prize. The ‘Innovation Arena Champion 2024’ prize is for established companies focused on scaling and innovation, while the new ‘Green Impact Award 2024’ will honour a company with innovations aimed at sustaining the development of food and farming for future generations.

Previous participants will also have the opportunity to apply for a space in the popular ‘Agritech Hub,’ an exhibition area that allows Irish-owned agritech companies to return to the NPC and showcase their progress to a diverse audience, including domestic and international visitors and buyers.

L/R: Leo Clancy, EI; Anna May McHugh, NPA; James Maloney, EI

Leo Clancy, EI CEO, commented: “Enterprise Ireland is committed to supporting Irish businesses and to become global leaders in their field. Working with the NPA, EI’s Innovation Arena provides an important platform for Irish companies in this sector and I would encourage all entrepreneurs who are interested to consider applying.” Anna May McHugh, NPA Managing Director, remarked: “The Innovation Arena proves to be a massive draw at the NPC every year. We are delighted to continue this successful partnership with Enterprise Ireland again.”

The winners of this year’s competition will be announced at a ceremony at the 2024 National Ploughing Championships, held in Ratheniska, Co Laois, from September 17-19.

For more information visit


Why Liquid Gold Is The Right Diversifier
Dave Russell, CEO, GoldCore Ltd

In my last article, I spoke about the role gold can play in your portfolio and focused on its role as a diversifier. So, after learning that 88.5% of respondents to GoldCore’s annual survey “view owning gold as a way to protect against bank failure,” I feel compelled to respond.

Dave Russell, CEO, GoldCore Ltd

Gold is an excellent diversifier. Given how hard it can be to find effective diversifiers, it’s not surprising how much gold’s popularity is growing amongst both central banks and individual investors alike. Whilst there are other portfolio diversifiers out there, they aren’t too hardy when market uncertainty and volatility rises, as they often become increasingly correlated to one another. However, gold usually stands firm and remains negatively correlated to equities and other risk assets as risks of a market sell-off increase.

Another reason why gold remains so popular is thanks to its liquidity. Liquidity refers to how quickly and easily you can sell an asset when you wish to realise returns or access cash. The gold market is global and highly liquid, which puts it in stark contrast to many other tangible assets as well as other markets. According to 2024 World Gold Council research, gold trades more than many other financial assets every day. This is something many people don’t appreciate about the metal, and they sometimes misunderstand how straightforward it is to buy and sell.

Its liquidity is why our clients choose not only to own but also to store their gold. It provides great diversification for their portfolio and also means there is liquidity there should they need it. Here at GoldCore, we have a network of vaults, with secure storage available across 12 locations worldwide. This allows our clients to securely store their gold in a range of secure locations and gives them access to the highly liquid and large global gold market. 

For more information, visit


NEAT Fusion: Revolutionising Gate Automation

Introducing the NEAT Fusion system from NEAT Gates, manufacturers and suppliers of the highest quality aluminium gate range available in Europe. The NEAT Fusion system is an innovative and easy-to-install automated gate system, designed with convenience and efficiency in mind. Each NEAT gate comes fully prepared for automation.

The specially crafted frames that are pre-assembled at its state-of-the-art factory in Damastown, Co Dublin, include the gates, posts, and automation mechanisms, all ready for delivery or in-factory inspection. The NEAT Fusion system revolutionises gate installation by eliminating the need for multiple trades working in tandem. Every component of the Fusion system, from the posts and gates to the automation and wiring, is meticulously installed and tested at the factory to ensure flawless operation. The Fusion unit is a single, cohesive piece that can be easily set in place and connected on site using pre-wired connections. This streamlined process reduces complexity and potential coordination issues, providing a seamless, end-to-end solution.

The only requirement is a suitable, tested power supply (5/6 amp, isolated at the dwelling) at the gate location, which must be installed by a qualified electrician. This ensures the system is safe and operational from the moment it is plugged in.

The NEAT Fusion system simplifies the process of automating your gate, combining high-quality components with straightforward installation. Professional teams are available for assistance, but if you decide to do it yourself, NEAT Fusion has a self-install option for any competent tradespersons or experienced DIY enthusiasts who can handle the installation with ease.

The NEAT range offers a comprehensive range of colours and finishes, including wood effects in extraordinarily realistic finishes to add to your home, at a low cost. By listening to its customers and innovating accordingly, NEAT Gates developed a product that is not only reliable and durable but also incredibly user-friendly.

For details see or contact on 01 5253259. Or why not arrange a factory visit to view the wide range of exceptional aluminium gates.