Insolvency is the term used to describe the state of a person or company who is unable to pay money that they are owe. There are two main types of known as cash-flow and balance-sheet insolvency. Being cash-flow insolvent is when the company or individual has enough assets to pay their owed debts but does not have the appropriate way to pay the debt back.
This method will look at negotiating with creditors to resolve the situation, such as giving the individual or company more time to work on selling their assets so that they can pay back their debt along with a penalty agreed upon. The other type, balance-sheet insolvency, is when a person or business does not have enough assets to pay off their debt. It could be that bankruptcy is an option for a person, however, it’s often not necessary as negotiation could solve the situation.
When an individual or a company becomes insolvent, there are several procedures that can be considered depending on the financial situation and the number and types of creditors involved. These procedures can buy time with the aim of rescuing the company and are known as Administration and Company Voluntary Arrangement. These were introduced in the Insolvency Act 1986 and are options alongside Liquidation of a company or Individual Voluntary Arrangements.
Whatever method is chosen, it is necessary for a licensed Insolvency Practitioner to help with the procedure a balance several competing interests whilst trying to rescue the person or business.
Situations where a company becomes insolvent are never simple and if you feel this is a position you find yourself in, we’re sure we can help. The circumstance often involves many creditors, shareholders, directors and employees and although the aim of the Insolvency Practitioner is to rescue the business or individual, they must prioritise the interests of the creditors.
An Insolvent Practitioner may be asked to be involved in different cases, meaning they could act as a Provisional liquidator, a liquidator, an Administrator, an Administrator Receiver, a supervisor of a Company Voluntary Arrangement (also known for short as a CVA) or act as an advisor to company directors.
It’s important that an insolvency practitioner has knowledge and understanding within the field they are called upon to help within. The work effects not only the lives of the debtor but also the creditors so many well-developed skills are needed including dealing with people from all backgrounds and levels, whether an anxious director or a concerned employee.
It may be that in some cases an IP finds themselves not only negotiating deals between debtor and creditors, but also running or re-structuring businesses. A huge part of their job is taking on an investigative role too as they have the legal duty to research and observe the activities of the company directors or business to ensure no wrongful or fraudulent activity has taken place.
As mentioned above, there are two main types of insolvency yet there are several procedures that may be applicable when a person or company finds themselves in financial trouble. It’s highly recommended that as soon as first signs of trouble are noted, contact with an IP is made right away.
The sooner the warning signs are addressed, the less serious the situation and the quicker and easier it can be handled. It is also the ideal time for the insolvency practitioner to assess the situation and determine the most suitable course of action.
Voluntary Administration – allows someone who owes money to enter into an arrangement with creditors to pay all or some of the debt whereby the practitioner acts as a supervisor, proposing the agreement and ensuring all terms are met.
Members Voluntary Liquidation – also known as solvent liquidation, the IP has a duty to release company assets and distribute the funds equally between all creditors.
Provisional Liquidation – this can occur is there is a dispute between company shareholders or an administrator needs to be appointed immediately.
Receiverships – when a secured creditor or court ensures all or part of a company’s assets are controlled, using an independent liquidator.
Court Liquidation – an order of liquidation initiated by the courts (also known as ‘winding up’)
Informal Workout/Turnaround – this may be an option if none of the above options are viable, an independent insolvency practitioner is sought to provide advice on resolving the situation
If a company, business or individual uses one of these procedures to help with debts, they will be added to a register called the Individual Insolvency Register. These are public documents which can be searched by anyone including employers, landlords, lenders and credit reference agencies.
The details that are published do depend on what type of solution has been chosen but most contain names, addresses, genders, date of birth and the name of the IP acting on the case along with the date the agreement started and the date it is due to end.
This does mean that procedures have a lasting effect on a company or individuals credit report, however it is possible, that over time, credit history can be rebuilt as long as responsible borrowing takes place and repayments are made on time.
There are many ways of finding an IP to discuss solutions to debt problems, and as mentioned previously, we advise you to do this sooner rather than later. The earlier you contact a practitioner, the more likely that they can implement a solution to prevent liquidation.
It is also worth remembering that it’s an offence under the Insolvency Act 1986, to realise that your business is insolvent yet not take action.
There are directories online which contain insolvency practitioners full contact details and details of their licensing body. You can also search by a county or even by known details if you have been recommended an insolvency practitioner by word of mouth. This directory can be accessed by visiting the gov site and using the search box to find the section titled ‘Find an insolvency practitioner’.