Insolvency Practitioner Declares Further Dividends

kalkulation am rechner

The success of an insolvency process is often measured on the ability to realise sufficient assets in order to pay something back to creditors and two cases we are administering are meeting that goal.

In the first case, PBC are delighted to announce the payment of a further significant interim dividend of £200,000 to HM Revenue & Customs from an insolvency estate.  Combined with a payment of £500,000 in January, HMRC have now received over 35% of their debt.  With further assets to realise, it is expected that well over £1million will be returned to creditors.

The second case involves an individual who was declared bankrupt in 2019.  Realisations of two buy to let properties and an endowment policy have enabled payments of approximately 20 pence in the pound to be made to unsecured creditors.

Jamie Cochrane said, “It is always pleasing to be able to make payments to creditors as described here.  The commercial approach taken by PBC on these cases has increased the dividends we are able to pay”.

If you require any advice or assistance on any insolvency-related issue, then please contact PBC Business Recovery & Insolvency to discuss and advise on your situation on 01604 212150 (Northampton), 01908 488653 (Milton Keynes) or email to  Alternatively, visit for further information.

Don’t Let Late Payments Lead To Insolvency

How much does your business rely upon cashflow?

Does that seem like an odd question to ask?  Well, if so, why is it that a recently published report showed 60% of UK businesses expect late payment of invoices will increase?  Indeed, that same report claims we spend over 71 days per annum (equating to over £27 billion in lost revenue) chasing late payments.

We have all heard the phrase, “Cash is king,” but the vicious circle of late payment across businesses damages the economy and puts businesses at risk of needing to enter into an insolvency event.

Cashflow difficulties are invariably cited as one of the most frequent causes for business failure and at PBC we have seen examples where better credit control may have resulted in them avoiding insolvency altogether.  Indeed, in a recent liquidation a creditor was bemoaning had they been more strenuous with their efforts to get paid they may not have been staring at a write off now!

At PBC we suggest all companies need to take steps to accelerate payment of sales invoices as a sales ledger does not pay the bills, payment does.  That is not always easy to accomplish and a commercial view must be adopted at times.  However, if it has proven too late and you get that dreaded notice your customer is entering into an insolvency event then contact PBC and we can advise you of your rights and even represent you to ensure your interests are protected as best as possible.

If you require any advice or assistance on any insolvency-related issue, then please contact PBC Business Recovery & Insolvency to discuss and advise on your situation on 01604 212150 (Northampton), 01908 488653 (Milton Keynes) or email to  Alternatively, visit for further information.

Informal full and final settlement – it can be done!

Settlement Agreement

Informal full and final settlement – it can be done!

We were recently referred a matter, which, was slightly unusual in the current climate and below is a summary of the facts:


  • Company had ceased trading.
  • Only asset was cash at bank of £67,000.
  • 6 Company creditors totalled £201,000 of which £75,000 was owed to the company directors.
  • No HMRC debt and no Covid support loans.


The directors asked could we deal with the voluntary liquidation of the matter and of course, given the net liabilities we said we could. However, given the nature of the matter and looking to think out of the box and, provide best advice, we suggested best try an informal full and final settlement which would provide the following:


  • A return of 33 pence in the £ (within 28 days) in the informal offer.


  • 21 pence in the £ (payment not likely to be received within 1 year) if 100% of creditors did not agree with liquidation as a result.


We are pleased to report that agreement was reached but this was mainly due to their being no HMRC debt and no Covid support loans (HMRC and liabilities in respect of Covid support loans are unable to informally agree this sort of offer) with the creditors involved being able to make a commercial decision.


Whilst it would have been easy for us to deal with the liquidation, we always to look to provide the best advice which, we believe, is certainly in evidence here.


If you require any advice on an insolvency-related issue, then please contact PBC Business Recovery & Insolvency on 01604 212150 or email to  Alternatively, visit for further information.


Formal crackdown on directors who dissolve companies to evade debts

The Insolvency Service has been granted new powers to take to task directors who dissolve companies to avoid paying company debts. This is as a direct result of directors dissolving companies to avoid repaying Government backed loans put in place to support businesses during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The new legislation now extends the Insolvency Service’s powers to investigate and disqualify company directors who have been deemed to have abused company dissolution processes.

Previously the Insolvency Service had these powers to investigate directors of companies that entered formal insolvency such as liquidation and administration. It is also understood that the Insolvency Service may also be instructed to investigate live companies where evidence has been brought to their attention of wrongdoing.

In addition, the new legislation also allows for the Insolvency Service to apply to court for an order to require a former director of a dissolved company, who has been disqualified, to pay compensation to creditors who have lost out due to their fraudulent behaviour.

Should you be a director and are concerned re the new legislation then please do make contact with Gary Pettit, Ian Cooke or Jamie Cochrane (01604 212150) to understand your obligations and responsibilities

End of Temporary Insolvency Measures

Creditor Enforcement to Re-commence

Since June last year, the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 included temporary measures that prevented creditors from serving statutory demands or presenting winding up petitions, other than exceptional circumstances.

These measures have previously been extended with the latest extension up to 30 September 2021.  However, it has been announced today (8 September) no further extensions shall be sanctioned.  In short, creditors will be able to use statutory demands and winding up petitions to enforce debt positions with effect from 1 October.

In an effort to cushion the threatened explosion of winding up petitions, the removal of these temporary provisions has been tempered slightly by adding some interim provisions that will be in force until 31 March 2022:

  1. To protect businesses from creditors insisting on repayment of relatively small debts the current minimum debt threshold for a winding up petition has been increased from £750 to £10,000


  1. Creditors shall be required to seek proposals for payment from a debtor business, giving them 21 days for a response before they can proceed with winding up action.

However, existing restrictions will remain in place for commercial landlords whereby presenting winding up petitions against limited companies to repay commercial rent arrears built up during the pandemic is prohibited.  This is consistent with the continued moratorium over commercial landlords where tenants will remain protected from eviction until 31 March 2022, whilst the government implements a rent arbitration scheme to deal with commercial rent debts accrued during the pandemic.

In response to this announcement, Gary Pettit of PBC said,

“It was inevitable the CIGA moratorium on creditor enforcement would end, particularly as the interim provisions were becoming a “Debtors’ charter” and damaging the economy overall.  The hike in minimum petition debt is welcome and should be made a more permanent monetary limitation but time will tell.  With the likes of HMRC being unleashed on about 18 months’ worth of tax debts life could get challenging for businesses where debt has accrued.  The potential of an explosion of debt enforcement activity means businesses need to think about their position and take early advice as the earlier that advice is taken, the more options that are generally available.”

Should you have an insolvency-related issue then please contact Gary Pettit at PBC Business Recovery & Insolvency on (01604) 212150 (Northampton office) or (01234) 834886 (Bedford office). Alternatively, you may send an email to or access our website at

Beware the Elephant Traps

Something I have been asked several times recently is when should directors seek advice from an insolvency practitioner.  My answer is always “as soon as possible” as there are more options available the earlier advice is sought, with the likelihood of rescue and recovery markedly higher.

The other advantage is that a director is less likely to step on what I call the elephant traps.  These antecedent transactions, explained below, can lead to personal liability for the director to restore the position to what it would have been prior to the transaction taking place.

  1. Preference

The Insolvency Act 1986 defines a preference as where a payment is made to a person and “that person is one of the creditors or guarantor for any of the debts and [the insolvent] does anything which has the effect of putting that person into a position which will be better than if that thing had not been done”. 

It needs to be proved that the company was insolvent at the time (or as a result) of the transaction and that there was a desire to prefer the creditor or guarantor.  However, where the recipient of the preference is a party connected with the company (e.g. a director or relative of a director or a company of such a person) then the desire is presumed.  Finally, the payment needs to take place within a relevant time which is 6 months prior to the company entering liquidation or administration, although this is extended to two years when the recipient is connected.

Typically, preference payments involve payments being made to directors to clear loan accounts, to creditors personally guaranteed by the director or to suppliers which the director intends to utilise should they start a new business.

  1. Transactions at an Undervalue

A transaction at undervalue occurs when a company “makes a gift or otherwise enters into a transaction that provide for no consideration” or “enters into a transaction for a consideration the value of which is significantly less than the value provided” in the two years prior to the company entering liquidation or administration.  Additionally, it needs to be proved that the company was insolvent at the time (or as a result) of the transaction.

The most common examples are the gifting of assets to directors or the transfer of an asset the director believes is theirs (e.g. a company car) for a value far less than it was worth.

  1. Transactions Defrauding Creditors

A transaction defrauding creditors arises when a company “makes a gift or otherwise enters into a transaction that provide for no consideration” or “enters into a transaction for a consideration the value of which is significantly less than the value provided”.

On the face of it, that sounds exactly like a transaction at undervalue but in this case it needs to be proved there was an intent to put assets beyond the reach of anyone likely to make a claim (typically a creditor).  There is no need to prove insolvency and the transaction does not need to occur in a relevant time period.

Often these cases involve scenarios where financial arrangements are changed to ensure one party holds the assets while another takes all the risk.

  1. Wrongful Trading

Wrongful trading occurs where “at some time before the commencement of the winding up, [a director] knew or ought to have concluded that there was no prospect of avoiding insolvent liquidation”.  

Case law has held that a director can be held personally liable for the increase in liabilities from the point where they ought to have reached the conclusion to the time when the company ultimately enters liquidation or administration.  A statutory defence is available to directors where “they took every step with a view to minimising the loss to the company’s creditors”. 

An example would be directors acknowledge their company had suffered losses and there was insufficient capital to keep the company trading.  Over the next two years (say) debts increased by £200,000 and the company went into liquidation owing £350,000.  The wrongful trading (and personal liability) is the £200,000 increase.

  1. Fraudulent Trading

Fraudulent trading carries criminal sanctions as well as personal liability for any party “knowingly … carrying on business with intent to defraud creditors or for any fraudulent purpose”.  The company does not need to be insolvent at the time of the fraudulent trading, which could be as simple as a single act.

A single act could be the taking of a loan, using the funds for personal benefit and having no intention of repaying the loan.  This would include the government backed Covid support schemes.

  1. Misfeasance

Misfeasance occurs where a director breaches their duty (fiduciary or otherwise) in relation to the company.  Common examples of this include adopting a systematic policy of avoiding paying taxes to HM Revenue & Customs, failing to maintain adequate books and records and paying dividends where there were not the available reserves to do so.

It is a common policy for director/shareholders to pay themselves a mixture of salary and dividends to reduce the tax liability but recent court judgements have held that dividends cannot subsequently be converted to salary if challenged.

Except with the statutory defence outlined above for wrongful trading, the antecedent transactions outlined have no defence so if a director steps on the elephant trap there is mitigation.  As a result, I must return to what I said at the outset that if advice is not taken as soon as possible, then this position could result in significant sums becoming payable by the director.

Government extends business support measures.

The Government have announced two further extensions of provisions under the Corporate Insolvency & Governance Act 2020.


Commercial landlords

The ability to evict or take goods in lieu of rental arrears has been further suspended until 25 March 2022.  The Government have produced a guide for landlords, which includes financial assistance.  The link is:

While this provision can be financially damaging to landlords, tenants also need to understand they must continue to pay rent (whether that is the contractual sum or a reduced amount under an agreement with their landlord) otherwise they are simply accruing a debt that could become unmanageable, while simultaneously increasing the landlord’s frustration, meaning they show less understanding once these provisions are lifted.

Further to the above, a director may have given a personal guarantee or, in non-payment of the rentals, could be exposing themselves to potential malpractice action (which carries personal liability) should their company ultimately fall into liquidation.

Debt enforcement

The restrictions on statutory demands and winding up petitions are being extended for a further three months until 30 September 2021.  The Government claim this is, “To protect companies from creditor enforcement action where their debts relate to the pandemic.”

It is, perhaps, interesting the announcement appears to be silent on extending the moratorium over wrongful trading, although directors, in particular, should not hold the misconception suspending wrongful trading provisions protects them if they continue trading beyond a point where creditors suffer.

While being of the view extending the above provisions further is kicking the can down the road, it is understandable.  The COVID road map has been pushed back until 19 July and with furlough to end in the autumn companies will need to re-adjust their overhead expenditure while also getting their business back on track after the adverse impact of lockdown.  Holding off aggressive creditor action to the end of September provides some breathing space for companies to recover before having to deal with aged debt.  Holding off landlords even further allows additional time for business owners to assess the viability of continued trading.

Should you have an insolvency-related issue then please contact me at PBC Business Recovery & Insolvency on (01604) 212150 (Northampton office) or (01234) 834886 (Bedford office). Alternatively, you may send an email to or access our website at


Have you heard the phrase, “You cannot change the past, but you may influence the future?  All too often we blame what has happened rather just accept that it has happened, and we need to address matters going forward.


The past 14 months, or so have been arguably the most challenging any of us have experienced but June brings forward two very important dates:

  • Assuming the Government road map stays on course, the 21st is expected to see the end of restrictions and a return to normal life.
  • It is widely believed the (thrice) extended deadline on various interim restrictions and amendments invoked under the Corporate Insolvency & Governance Act (“CIGA”) will end on 30 June.  These include a limitation on serving statutory demands, presenting winding up petitions and landlords taking recovery action for rental arrears.


In addition to the CIGA provisions, many businesses will now be receiving notification that repayments of the “Bounce Back” loans are falling due, while the employment furlough scheme is set to end in the autumn.

All the above events will serve to impact on company cash flow, while many will face recovery action from those debtors, frustrated they could not take enforcement action during the CIGA restriction period.  This includes HM Revenue & Customs where enforcement action has been limited to tax evasion and other limited taxation matters.  It is little wonder the Government have extended the restriction period.

Many will be aware of the phrase, “If you fail to plan then plan to fail.”  Unfortunately, all too often, people are great at what they do as a profession, but the accounting/bookkeeping side is seen as a necessary evil.  That may well be the view but if you had a flat tyre, would you carry on driving or stop and do that necessary evil of changing the wheel?

The prediction is UK will endure a short, but sharp economic recession.  As with previous economic challenges, those prepared are generally the ones who survive, so how do you promote the chances of you being one of those survivors?  Here are a few points that I see when assisting companies in financial difficulties:


  1. Put together a cash flow forecast (ask your accountant to help if preferred).  When you have this, check actual trading results with the forecast, at least on a monthly basis in order to compare projections with the actual results.


  1. Credit control.  Remembering cash is king and a good customer is a paying customer, and your customers are likely to be facing similar post COVID issues as you.  Unpaid debts do not pay the wages!


  1. With credit control comes setting and keeping to credit limits.  If you set a credit limit of (say) £5,000 for a customer and an order comes in that exceeds that limit, be bold enough to inform them you cannot entertain that latest order until some of the older invoices are paid.  Yes, some may grumble but your recovery time will improve.


  1. Where appropriate, consider negotiating longer debt repayment terms with creditors.  The Government anticipate there should be a lot of forbearance demonstrated by creditors (including HM Revenue & Customs) as, generally speaking and within reason, they would rather recover their debt than find they are on a list of creditors of an insolvency.


  1. Avoid the temptation of “Corrective trading.”  What I mean is, for example, do not think hiking your prices will help you recover sales income lost during the COVID restrictions.  While reasonable increases maybe acceptable, pushing that barrier too high will inevitably lose you custom.


  1. If in any doubt, seek independent and professional advice, whether that is from your accountant, solicitor, or an insolvency practitioner.  These advisors are there to assist you and steer you in the right direction so use them and use them at an early stage.


Should you have an insolvency-related issue then please contact me at PBC Business Recovery & Insolvency on (01604) 212150 (Northampton office) or (01234) 834886 (Bedford office). Alternatively, you may send an email to or access our website at

How are you paid?

PBC Logo

As the heading asks, how are you paid?  Is it a fixed salary, flexible hourly rate or on target earnings, or a combination of these?

In just over 32 years working in the insolvency profession I have been confronted with a wide variety of challenges.  However, the single most challenging task is when informing people, they are being made redundant.  It is my own fear, and I will never get used to being that messenger, even if those unfortunate employees being made redundant is for the greater good of saving a business.

When a company enters into a formal insolvency procedure, in most cases employees are entitled to make a claim for their entitlements against the Redundancy Payments Service (“RPS”).  The one regular surprise (it would appear) is that employee claimants includes directors provided they are able to demonstrate they were also employees at the time.

Generally speaking, the entitlements are wage arrears, accrued/unpaid holiday, redundancy and payment in lieu of notice.  In most cases, these claims are assessed quite easily.  You enter your fixed pay details and what you are owed on the online application.  However, what if you are on flexible hours or your income fluctuates due to commission earnings, so you are unable to insert a definitive earning figure?  This has been an issue for as long as I can remember, and “Best guess” tended to be the answer.  A recent announcement has been made by RPS that should partially address this issue.

With effect from 12 April 2021 employees with variable pay are being asked to calculate their entitlements based upon their 52-week average rate of pay.  I say, “Partially” because no computer system can fully address the large divergence in vocations and some employees could actually lose out.  For example, if you were paid commissions based upon holiday bookings, it is fair to assume earnings have been lower than normal over the past 52 weeks due to the pandemic restrictions.  Conversely, an estate agent may have seen an increase in their earnings due to the suspension of stamp duty enhancing property sales.  The question is, will RPS make an exceptional allowance for the impact of COVID?  I would suggest unlikely.

Should predictions be correct once the Government support programmes end, corporate insolvencies will increase and no doubt, the media will make plenty of noise over the scale of redundancies inherit with corporate failure and restructuring.  This prediction will place RPS under considerable pressure and payment target times will be challenged as a result, exposing those made redundant to a difficult time while they await entitlements.

Should you have an insolvency-related issue then please contact me at PBC Business Recovery & Insolvency on (01604) 212150 (Northampton office) or (01234) 834886 (Bedford office). Alternatively, you may send an email to or access our website at

Are we heading for an economic cliff?

How prepared are you for when the COVID-related financial support and other interim measures fall away? 

With the impact of COVID the Government laid down, what was to become the Corporate Insolvency & Governance Act 2020 (“CIGA”) which became law in June 2020 and had retrospective effect to March 2020.  CIGA was seen as a balancing act between the detrimental impact the severe restrictions would have for trading on one hand against shielding business from depleted cash flow on the other.

In January the House of Lords debated over the continued restrictions on creditor enforcement imposed by CIGA.  These restrictions were intended to expire on 30 September but were extended to 31 December and subsequently 31 March 2021.  In general, the restrictions prevented the service of statutory demands/winding up petitions, landlord enforcement and suspended wrongful trading provisions.  As a result of these restrictions, the latest data suggests an unprecedented level of debt has accrued, including over £4.5 billion in rent arrears.

Furthermore, there is an estimated £70 billion of Government-backed lending, together with deferred tax liabilities, which is most likely going to make HM Revenue & Customs (“HMRC”) a major creditor in most insolvencies, resulting in them having significant influence on the destiny of businesses.  This influence is made all the greater following the upgrading of HMRC to secondary preferential status when formal insolvency is required.

So, what is the good news?

Well, the Government have announced an easing of bounce back loan repayments in an effort to ease cash flow demands.  In addition, recognising the resulting position of HMRC and the detrimental effect COVID has caused generally, the House of Lords have stressed HMRC need to be co-operative and engaging with a supportive approach on proposed COVID-affected corporate restructuring.  Clearly, time will tell on this recommendation and I would say this commercial understanding needs to be wider by including landlords and credit controllers who are all seeking recoveries.

I asked in the title whether we are heading towards an economic cliff.  Personally, I would suggest “Normal” (whatever that is) will not occur over night.  So, rather than a cliff as COVID restrictions ease off, maybe the economy will experience a gradual slope.

Whatever the outcome businesses need to be pro-active.  Review your cash flow and look at ways of reducing overheads, particularly while your turnover gradually starts to return to pre-COVID levels.  You should engage with your creditors and for those who are owed money, a commercial understanding is going to be the order of the day.  If all fails, the advice has to be to seek early advice.  It is no coincidence those who do seek early advice find they have more options available then those who leave it until the last minute.  As a Scout will say, “Be prepared.”

Should you have an insolvency-related issue then please contact me at PBC Business Recovery & Insolvency on (01604) 212150 (Northampton office) or (01234) 834886 (Bedford office). Alternatively, you may send an email to or access our website at