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Creditor protections in insolvency proceedings

In 2015, approximately 113,000 (mostly medium-sized) businesses were trade creditors in insolvency procedures, according to research by the insolvency trade body, R3. That’s around 6% of all UK businesses being put at risk because of monies owed by another firm or individual.

Restrictions imposed on civil litigation costs, which came into effect back in 2013, didn’t cover insolvency procedures, but a recent Government statement (available here) has confirmed this will all change in April 2016.

Currently, insolvency proceedings permit the use of ‘no win, no fee’ claims, essentially making an unsuccessful defendant liable to pay the claimant’s solicitor’s success fee (i.e. a risk based uplift on fees) and after the event (ATE) legal insurance premiums as part of a costs order. From April 2016, however, this will no longer be the case. Instead, the liability will pass to the funds held by the insolvency practitioner; funds which would otherwise have passed to the insolvent company’s creditors. As seen above, that could affect a sizeable number of businesses.

Trade creditors rank fairly low on the list for insolvency repayments. What steps, therefore, can your business take to help protect itself in 2016? Here’s a few thoughts:

  1. Think carefully about who you trade with. What are the risks of trading with them?
  2. How flexible is your cash flow? For example, do you pay your own suppliers in advance, but then find you’re not paid in advance for your own goods or services?
  3. Introduce efficient credit control procedures, or update your existing procedures, to help manage what’s owed to your business.
  4. If you do become a trade creditor in insolvency proceedings, engage with the insolvency practitioner or Official Receiver at the early stage possible to help maximise your returns.


If you would like more information or advice relating to this article or a Corporate law matter, please do not hesitate to contact Chris Wilks on 02071 835683 or 01727 798083. 

© SA LAW 2017

Every care is taken in the preparation of our articles. However, no responsibility can be accepted to any person who acts on the basis of information contained in them alone. You are recommended to obtain specific advice in respect of individual cases.

Chris Wilks is an experienced corporate partner who focuses on advising small and medium sized companies and individual investors.
Chambers & Partners
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