After P&O Ferries announced it had sacked nearly 800 of its UK-based sailors with no notice last month, the UK's Insolvency Service launched formal criminal and civil investigations into the sackings.
The sackings appear to have failed to follow the proper process for notifying the authorities, which include the Government and trade unions. Failure to inform the authorities in these cases is a criminal offence and could lead to unlimited fines for both the company and its directors.
There is some uncertainty as to whether these penalties can be applied to the maritime sector, where employers must only inform the authorities in the countries where its ships are registered. P&O Ferries' ships are registered outside the UK.
Speaking with the Financial Times, senior associate David Fendt explains that "if it does appear that P&O failed to provide the requisite notice to the secretary of state, then not only could the company face an unlimited fine, but so too could its directors".
David is a senior associate in our insolvency team. He regularly acts for office-holders in both personal and corporate insolvencies in relation to all aspects of their appointment, including advising on claims against directors and other third parties under the Insolvency Act 1986.