Construction company loses case against de-registration over tax issues

A construction company responsible for a fatal 2011 collapse has lost its case to contest the de-registration of the firm over tax irregularities

The owners of a construction company that had been declared responsible for a 2011 collapse that killed a young French tourist, have lost a court case in which they contested the de-registration of their company over tax irregularities.

James Mifsud and Gordon Farrugia, directors of Buz-Dov Developments Ltd, had filed their case against the Registrar of Companies in August 2020, after the company was struck off in July of that year.

In an unconnected criminal case back in 2019, Mifsud, Farrugia and Buz-Dov Developments Ltd itself had been found guilty of the involuntary homicide of Quentin Michel. The French teenager had tragically died at a rental property built by the company, after leaning against a defective wall that collapsed on top of him. Experts appointed by that court had confirmed that there was only a “smear” of cement holding the bricks together and that the heavily cracked semi-basement wall was not anchored to the rock behind it.

In a judgment handed down on Monday, Mr Justice Ian Spiteri Bailey, presiding the Commercial section of the Civil Courts, denied their request for re-listing.

Spiteri Bailey observed that the Registrar of Companies had testified that the striking off had been motivated by the company’s failure to file annual tax documents for the 2014 to 2020 period, its annual accounts for the 2013-2019 period and failing to supply information relating to its beneficial owners. It had also been fined €4,509 for these shortcomings, the court was told.

The plaintiffs had claimed in court that the striking off was irregular as only one director, and not both, had received a written warning of proceedings against them.

But the court noted that although they had declared through their lawyers that they would settle the outstanding tax amounts “within a reasonable time,” 13 months later they had done nothing. The court had given them a further 3 months to bring their position into line but despite this, they had not complied.

The judge remarked that the actions and attitude of the plaintiffs made it clear to the court that they were not interested in the reactivation and relisting of their company, despite their claims to the contrary. The court decried the “waste of the court’s and everyone’s time,” and highlighted that the directors had also failed to reply to letters sent to them by the Registrar.

“The defendant Registrar was prepared to help, the court gave enough time- but the plaintiffs did not seize the opportunity to do their part. The blame is theirs and theirs alone.”