Secretary of State for Trade and Industry v Tjolle and Others: ChD 9 May 1997

Delay and the probable short period of disqualification are proper reasons for Secretary of State to consider discontinuing proceedings. As to whether a person ‘assumes to act as a director’: ‘It may be difficult to postulate any one decisive test. I think what is involved is very much a question of degree. The court takes into account all the relevant factors. Those factors include at least whether or not there was a holding out by the company of the individual as a director, whether the individual used the title, whether the individual had proper information (e.g. management accounts) on which to base decisions, and whether the individual had to make major decisions and so on. Taking all these factors into account, one asks ‘was this individual part of the corporate governing structure’, answering it as a kind of jury question. In deciding this, one bears very much in mind why one is asking the question. That is why I think the passage I quoted from Millett J is important. There would be no justification for the law making a person liable to misfeasance or disqualification proceedings unless they were truly in a position to exercise the powers and discharge the functions of a director. Otherwise they would be made liable for events over which they had no real control, either in fact or law.’


Jacob J


Gazette 18-Jun-1997, Times 09-May-1997, [1998] 1 BCLC 333


Company Directors Disqualification Act 1985, Company Directors Disqualification Act 1985


England and Wales


CitedRe Hydrodam (Corby) Ltd 1994
Millett J described a de facto director as: ‘a person who assumes to act as a director. He is held out as a director by the company, claims and purports to be a director, although never actually or validly appointed as such. To establish that a . .
ApprovedSecretary of State for Trade and Industry v Elms 16-Jan-1997
‘At the forefront of the test I think I have to go on to consider by way of further analysis both what Millett J meant by ‘functions properly discharged only by a director’, and Mr Lloyd QC meant by ‘on an equal footing’. As to one it seems to me . .

Cited by:

CitedUltraframe (UK) Ltd v Fielding and others ChD 27-Jul-2005
The parties had engaged in a bitter 95 day trial in which allegations of forgery, theft, false accounting, blackmail and arson. A company owning patents and other rights had become insolvent, and the real concern was the destination and ownership of . .
ExplainedRe Kaytech International plc; Secretary of State for Trade and Industry v Kaczer and others CA 1999
Robert Walker LJ said that the expression ‘de facto director’ had been in use for a long time, and commented on the failure to distinguish in pleadings between pleas that someone was a shadow or a de facto director. The two different labels were not . .
CitedThe Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills v Weston and Another ChD 5-Sep-2014
The Secretary of State sought company director disqualification orders against the defendants saying they had been convicted of making false instruments. The Insolvency service had decided against such proceedings, and the Crown Court judge, when . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 13 April 2022; Ref: scu.89147