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Financial difficulties can be hard to bear, but seeking professional advice on bankruptcy can be an important step not only towards regaining your footing, but also in avoiding committing potentially criminal offences.

The Insolvency Service has reported on one example of a bankrupt individual – 50-year-old Trevor Lawrence of Northampton – who acted as a director of four separate building companies whilst disqualified from doing so.

Lawrence – who appropriately enough later adopted the surname Fail – has now been sentenced to 27 months in prison, with a further seven-year disqualification from acting as a director.

His story is a catalogue of bankruptcies and company liquidations that demonstrates the importance of seeking advice on bankruptcy at the outset, and not trying to evade the system.

Lawrence was declared bankrupt twice – first in his own name, then as Trevor Fail – yet still went on to act as a director.

One of the firms he acted for, All Seasons Building Solutions Ltd, went into company liquidation; another, Gadsby & Fay Ltd, went into administration.

The others took money from customers for work that was never carried out, or VAT payments that were not due.

Ian West, deputy chief investigating officer on the case, said: “This was a particularly blatant example of offending where members of the public were defrauded of substantial amounts of money, and where enforcement agencies working together have ensured that the perpetrator has been penalised for his crimes.”

The case is a firm reminder that shirking your requirements when you are declared bankrupt is simply not worth the risk – and of why you should seek advice on bankruptcy as soon as possible when your financial position becomes untenable.