When I get that call from Business Times informing me it is time to draft your editorial reviewing the past year a mild panic strikes like a bolt out of the blue! Is it really that time already?  What has happened over the past year and what can I write about?

The year started with PBC launching its mediation service.  So far, the PBC mediation service has successfully settled every dispute where acted, either on the day or in the immediate period thereafter.  It has included insolvency-related matters, a shareholder dispute and a professional negligence claim.  All but one were pre-legal action and it is fair to say in two of those the claimant was probably relieved that a settlement was reached!

For those who believe they want their day in court then beware. The courts are penalising those who refuse mediation as an alternative dispute resolution by imposing cost awards.  In one report I read the Claimant won £10,000 but because they refused mediation a cost order of £35,000 was made against them!

While mediation is proving successful our principal area remains insolvency and once again we have found ourselves being asked to act on some challenging assignments, including a deceased estate on the South coast and a corporate group that has two foreign subsidiaries (one in Canada and the other in Australia).  We were also delighted to accept our first nomination from HM Revenue & Customs for the appointment as liquidator, replacing the directors’ choice of insolvency practitioner.

The advisory side has also seen some interesting matters where PBC have assisted creditors of companies either entering into an insolvency process or, in one case, challenging the conduct of the residing liquidator. As we always say at PBC, awareness (of your rights) can often protect your financial interest.

The retail sector has taken a pounding this year as we witness the likes of House of Fraser and Toys R Us fall under the regime of the Insolvency Act. Until the retailers look at new ways of improving foot fall then the outlook continues to look bleak.

Gary Pettit was also invited to be party to the Government consultation on corporate governance, being proposals following the experiences of these large-scale corporate failures and the devastating legacy they leave. As the Government say, “When Parliamentary time allows” there could be some stark changes imposed, including the ability to pursue directors of companies that are struck off the register.

For the time being directors should be aware HM Revenue & Customs are continuing their campaign to recover tax from “Disguised remuneration schemes” such as Employment Benefit Trusts and other tax avoidance schemes. At PBC we have seen an increase of these incidences and with the constant pressure to reduce the level of unpaid taxes, it is an area that will continue to grow in recovery procedure terms.

It has to be said the final word must go to Jamie Cochrane who passed his accountancy qualifications. It is a great achievement and the PBC Team all congratulate him on his success.  That hard work and his dedication to PBC has also been rewarded with promotion to associate.

Should you have an insolvency-related issue or a corporate dispute then please contact Gary Pettit and PBC Business Recovery & Insolvency on (01604) 212150 or email to garypettit@pbcbusinessrecovery.co.uk