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Being 16: the minimum age of a company director

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When you turn 16, you can become a director of a company.

A company must have at least one director who is 16 or over and not disqualified from being a director.

Directors are legally responsible for running the company and making sure company accounts and reports are properly prepared and filed on time. They must exercise reasonable skill, care and diligence in their role.

Although setting up a company is pretty straight forward, do not overlook the responsibilities of being a company director.

It would be foolish to assume that these responsibilities are just a formality. Failure to comply could result in personal fines, personal liability for the company’s debts, disqualification from acting as a director and even imprisonment.

Even if you do not intend to carry on any kind of business activity or receive any form of income, like a dormant company, you must still file dormant accounts and send us confirmation statements every year.

A director can hire other people to manage some of the day-to-day tasks of running a company, for example, an accountant. But they’re still legally responsible for their company’s records, accounts and performance.

If you’re thinking of starting and running a company, getting legal advice should be high on your list. A specialised business solicitor can help you identify any legal problems and advise you on what steps to take to prevent problems before they happen.

Sixteen year old me

Can you remember being 16? I can, just.

Actually, although it was a long time ago, I have vivid recollections of finishing exams, awaiting the results and wishing for the end of term. Or in my case, the end of school.

Having already booked a holiday with 3 of my friends to Magaluf, the task was then to find a job to pay for it. In my day the careers advice went something like this:

Adviser: “What do you want to do?”

Me: “Play football.”

Adviser: “Have you thought of the Civil Service?”

Me: “What’s the Civil Service?”

I had visions of pinstripe suits and bowler hats. But after sitting a couple of aptitude tests and an interview, I was informed by a very official looking letter that I was to report to 1 Victoria Street at 9.30 to start my career.

So, after leaving school on the Friday, I started work on the Monday at the Department of Trade and Industry.

Although things have changed a lot since then there are still some great opportunities to join a diverse and inclusive organisation.

Keep up to date on vacancies at Companies House by following us on Twitter or visiting the Civil Service jobs website.

At 16, I started work, applied for my provisional driving license, booked a holiday and opened a bank account. This got me thinking, what else can you do at 16?

Legal rights

Let’s start with the important things.

You can drink beer or cider in a pub or restaurant, if you’re having a meal and you’re accompanied by an adult. But, you cannot be the person buying it.

You can serve alcohol in a restaurant, if the licence holder or bar manager has approved the sale.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland you can get married - but if you’re under 18, you’ll need permission from your parents or guardians. In Scotland, you do not need permission. Do couples still elope to Gretna Green?

You can buy premium bonds, do the football pools and win the lottery. However, your odds of winning are 26,000 to 1 for each premium bond, 6 million to 1 for the football pools and 14 million to 1 for the lottery. If you don’t enter, you won’t have any chance of winning. But remember, when the fun stops, stop.

You can buy aerosol paint, change your name by deed poll, hold a license to drive a moped, buy a pet and apply for your own passport.

To be 16 again...

Would I like to be 16 again? Acne, trying to be fashionable, trendy haircuts. Maybe not. Then again, mum’s cooking, no mortgage, no stress, a Yamaha FS1E.

To quote some lyrics from the Faces song, Ooh la la:

“I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger.”

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  1. Comment by Andrew posted on

    I really enjoyed reading that, thank you!

  2. Comment by Christopher Miller posted on

    I, like Andrew, enjoyed reading it. However I have a question. Do I have to be 16 to own shares in a company and can I be an initial subscriber to a company at 16? Put the question another way, what is the youngest I can be to be an initial subscriber and also a shareholder. What happens if I am an initial subscriber and do not 'pay up' my share capital. Will the liquidator deduct the unpaid share capital from my pocket money? If my name is Dennis the Menace, would the liquidator have any priority over other claims for damages? Placing all of this in to a festive context, could baby Jesus have been an initial subscriber to a company? Because in a modern context, rather than all that gold frankincense and myrrh which apart from gold has little value in today's market, may be a few subscriber shares might be a better gift.

    • Replies to Christopher Miller>

      Comment by Ellis Davies - Digital Content Designer posted on

      Hi Christopher, thank you for your comment and I'm glad you enjoyed reading the blog.

      There is no minimum age limit for shareholders imposed within the Companies Act 2006.

      A company may however choose to add its own stipulations surrounding shareholder ages to its articles of association. And officers of the company must follow these rules when running the company.

  3. Comment by James Hudson posted on

    This is great news. At present I am teaching a student who is very talented and will obviously need a company formation to further his fashion and textile creativity. I previously thought that 18 was the minimum age re Company directorship. Also info re driving license and passport was useful. Many thanks. James Hudson-Supply Teachers Direct Ltd.

  4. Comment by Adrian Lawrence posted on

    I must admit to having some concerns that a 16 year old is able to appreciate the implications of becoming a director and being able to ensure that it meets its obligations for filing accounts and everything else.

    But I guess on the other hand it is reasonable if you can join the army etc.

    I do also have worries that details of young Directors are available from Companies house and the many internet based business information services such as plus other similar sites / services.

    Are any special measure taken to support our younger directors and are there statistics available covering how many there are by age?

    • Replies to Adrian Lawrence>

      Comment by Ellis Davies - Digital Content Designer posted on

      Hi Adrian, thank you for your comment.

      Our #GetBizzy campaign is aimed at making sure 16-24 year old entrepreneurs are aware of who we are, what we do and how our tools and resources can help them take their business ideas to the next level. And our news story contains some statistics on how the percentage of young directors has grown over recent years.