Almost any person who is at least 16 years old can be a director of a UK company, even if they do not live in the UK. There are a few restrictions which can prohibit someone from being a director, such as if a person is an undischarged bankrupt, or if a person has been disqualified from acting as a director. Companies themselves can also be directors of other companies, provided the company they are appointed to, has at least one human director.
So, who can be a company director?
There are no limitations on where a company director lives. They do not have to be a UK resident, nor do they have to be a UK national. Their correspondence address (the official contact address listed on the Companies House public register) can be anywhere in the world.
The minimum age to be a company director is 16. It is recommended, however, that under 18s not be appointed directors as people are only legally recognised as adults in the UK once they reach their 18th birthday. Any contracts the director signed whilst still being a minor could be challenged.
Although a ban on corporate directors (companies acting as directors) is expected to be implemented in the near future, companies can still act as a company director, although some restrictions do apply. As with human directors, though, these corporate entities can be based anywhere in the world.
Who is restricted from being a company director?
You cannot be a director if you are an ‘undischarged bankrupt’, i.e. you are still going through the bankruptcy process.
In addition, a person will not be allowed to become a director if a disqualification order has been made against them by the courts, or they have entered into a disqualification undertaking with the Insolvency Service (where the person has voluntarily disqualified themselves without having to go to court).
The Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 provides that a person can be disqualified from being a director or taking part in the promotion, formation or management of a company for up to fifteen years.
One reason for being disqualified from being a director, is being convicted of a criminal offence in connection with the company. Another reason is where a person has been convicted of an offence involving a failure to file the company’s annual accounts or confirmation statement with Companies House.
Finally, you will not be able to become a director of a company if you are also the auditor of that company, due to conflict of interest.
Whilst other corporate entities can be appointed to act as a director of a company, the Companies Act 2006 states they can only do so when there is at least one other human appointed as a director to that company as well. Companies with corporate directors and no human directors are in ‘default’ and liable to be struck off by Companies House.
It should be noted that corporate directors have been technically outlawed, but that the ban is not yet in force. Companies with corporate directors should monitor the status of this ban going forward.