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Can I Be Investigated if My Company Goes into Liquidation?

Investigations into directors’ conduct are a necessity during both compulsory and voluntary liquidations.

Company directors, shadow directors, and those who have instructed a disqualified director to act in an inappropriate manner may all be subject to an investigation.

The aim of these investigations is to get sufficient evidence to determine if any misconduct has taken place prior to the company’s insolvency.

The liquidator collects evidence from the company’s books and financial records, interviews directors, and may converse with employees and external professionals.

The big question is: what triggers these investigations and what is the difference between compulsory liquidation effect and voluntary liquidation investigations?

Compulsory Liquidation Investigations

In compulsory liquidation, the Official Receiver examines the actions of the company director prior to the winding-up order and investigates the company’s affairs and the causes of its failure.

Due to the fact that waiting for a creditor to wind up the company implies that creditor interests have not been given precedence, the Official Receiver performs exhaustive investigations into the conduct of the various other company directors too.

This is because creditors may have experienced additional losses that could have been avoided if the company had been placed into voluntary liquidation.

In other words, the Official Receiver’s role in compulsory liquidation is to ensure that public interest and the interests of creditors are protected.

Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation Investigations

On the other hand, in a Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation (CVL), the company acknowledges its inability to settle its debts and initiates the winding-up process.

Although this process offers some protection for both creditors and directors, as it minimizes financial losses and allows control over legal proceedings, an investigation still takes place.

The liquidator, administrator, or receiver of the company possesses a legal obligation to submit a report to the Secretary of State concerning the conduct of the directors.

The key difference between compulsory and voluntary liquidation investigations lies in the level of control that directors have over the process and the extent to which creditor interests are taken into account.

Director’s Responsibilities in Insolvency

During insolvency, company directors are legally obligated to work with the Official Receiver or insolvency practitioner and act in the interests of the company creditors.

Directors have a responsibility to cooperate with the liquidator, provide any information and assistance required, and deliver any books and records necessary.

Failure to comply with these responsibilities could lead to allegations of misconduct, an Insolvency Service investigation, and potential penalties.

Let’s delve deeper into the specific responsibilities of directors during the insolvency process, such as cooperating with liquidators and dealing with personal guarantees and liability.

Cooperating with Liquidators

Cooperation with liquidators is an essential responsibility of directors during the liquidation process.

Directors must furnish any information and aid requested by the liquidator, deliver any books and records necessary, and act in the best interests of the company and its creditors.

Failing to cooperate with the Official Receiver during liquidation could result in serious consequences, including allegations of misconduct, which may lead to an Insolvency Service investigation and the imposition of penalties.

Moreover, the Official Receiver may take legal action to forcibly seize records and may even request the court to compel the director’s cooperation.

In short, cooperation with liquidators is crucial for company directors during the liquidation process.

Personal Guarantees and Liability

A personal guarantee is a legally binding agreement between a director and a lender, wherein the director consents to be personally responsible for the repayment of a loan or debt should the company be unable to reimburse it.

Signing a personal guarantee during directorship may have serious implications if the company fails to have sufficient funds to pay back loans.

In such cases, the director will be held accountable and further action will be pursued for the repayment.

It is advised that directors request to be released from the personal guarantee upon their departure from the company prior to liquidation.

This highlights the importance to business, of understanding and managing personal guarantees and limited liability, as a company director and business being.

Common Reasons for Director Investigations

Director investigations typically occur due to wrongful trading, fraudulent trading, transactions at undervalue, preference payments, and neglecting to prioritize creditors’ best interests.

Wrongful trading is defined as when a director continues to trade a company when they are aware or should be aware, that there is no reasonable prospect of the company avoiding insolvent liquidation.

Fraudulent trading, on the other hand, involves conducting business with the intention of defrauding creditors or for any fraudulent purpose.

These two reasons are quite common and serious. Let’s take a closer look at wrongful and fraudulent trading.

Wrongful Trading

Wrongful trading is a civil offense that occurs when a company’s directors continue to trade despite knowing or having reasonable grounds to believe, that there was no prospect of avoiding insolvent liquidation or insolvent administration.

Directors can be held personally liable for the company’s debts in cases of wrongful trading.

If creditors experience a heightened financial loss due to wrongful trading, the director could be held personally accountable for the additional debts.

Therefore, it is crucial for company directors to act responsibly and cease trading if they become aware that the company faces an insolvent liquidation or administration.

Fraudulent Trading

Fraudulent trading is a criminal offense that involves conducting business with the aim of deceiving creditors or other parties for personal gain.

It is distinct from wrongful trading in that fraudulent trading involves a deliberate intent to deceive.

Directors found guilty of fraudulent trading may face severe consequences, including criminal charges and being held personally liable for the company’s debts.

It is imperative for directors to act ethically and transparently in their business dealings to avoid the serious repercussions of fraudulent trading.

Consequences of Unfit Conduct and Disqualification

In the event of a liquidator’s inquiry uncovering any misconduct, directors may be disqualified, personally liable for the company’s debts, and even face criminal proceedings.

Unfit conduct is defined as any action or failure to act that does not meet the expectations of a reasonable director, including mismanagement, fraud, or breach of fiduciary duty.

The consequences of unfit conduct and disqualification can be severe, impacting not only the director’s professional reputation but also their financial stability.

Disqualification Process

The disqualification process begins when an autonomous team evaluates the investigator’s report and assesses whether there is enough proof for disqualification and whether it is in the public interest to submit an application for a disqualification order.

If the Insolvency Service decides to proceed with disqualification, they may make an application to the court to disqualify the director from participating in the management of companies without obtaining prior approval from the court.

The intent of the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 is to uphold the credibility of the business setting.

The disqualification process ensures that directors who engage in unfit conduct are held accountable for their actions.

Impact on Future Directorship

Following disqualification, directors may face restrictions on their future directorship.

Section 216 of the Insolvency Act 1986 stipulates that a person who has acted as a company director or shadow director in the twelve months preceding the company’s liquidation is prohibited from utilizing the same or a similar name as the liquidated company for a period of five years.

Violating this prohibition could result in criminal activity and the individual being held personally liable for all of the debts of the new company should it enter liquidation.

It is crucial for disqualified directors to be aware of these restrictions and to comply with them to avoid further legal consequences.

Navigating the Liquidation Process as a Director

Seeking professional advice from licensed insolvency practitioners is recommended to navigate the liquidation process as a director.

Knowing your rights as a director is essential, as it ensures that you can make informed decisions and protect your interests during the process.

For instance, directors have the right to participate in the liquidation process as a creditor or shareholders of the dissolved company, and to receive any dividend distribution of the liquidated company’s assets that remain following the payment of the liquidated company’s debts.

Let’s discuss the importance of seeking professional advice and knowing your rights as a creditor who losses a director during the liquidation process.

Seeking Professional Advice

Seeking professional advice is essential in minimising potential legal or financial risks and guaranteeing that you possess accurate information from the beginning.

An experienced insolvency practitioner, such as the team at The Insolvency Experts, should be consulted to ascertain whether formal insolvency of your company necessitates ceasing trading during liquidation.

Additionally, professional advice can help you understand the implications of personal guarantees, security bonds, and other financial liabilities that may arise during the liquidation process.

In short, seeking professional advice can provide valuable guidance seek advice and support throughout the liquidation process.

Knowing Your Rights as a Director

Being cognizant of your rights as a director is imperative during the company in the liquidation process.

These rights include the ability to participate in the company in the liquidation process as a creditor or shareholder and to receive any dividend distribution of the company in liquidation’s assets that remain following the payment of the company in liquidation’s debts.

Moreover, understanding your rights ensures that you can protect your interests, make informed decisions, and navigate the process more smoothly.

It is vital for directors to be aware of their rights and responsibilities during the liquidation process to avoid potential legal and financial consequences.


To sum up, company directors must be aware of the reality of investigations during both compulsory and voluntary liquidations.

Directors have a responsibility to cooperate with liquidators and manage personal guarantees and liabilities during insolvency.

Common reasons for director investigations include wrongful trading, fraudulent trading, and unfit conduct.

Directors found guilty of these offenses may face disqualification, personal liability for the company’s debts, and even criminal charges.

Seeking professional advice from licensed insolvency practitioners and knowing your rights as a director is essential for navigating the liquidation process.

By doing so, you can minimize potential legal or financial risks, protect your interests, and make informed decisions throughout the process.

As a company director, it is crucial to be proactive, responsible, and transparent in your dealings, especially when facing the possibility of liquidation.

By understanding the various aspects of the liquidation process and the potential consequences of misconduct, you can better prepare yourself for any challenges that may arise and ensure the best possible outcome for the public interest of both the public interest you and your company.

Frequently Asked Questions

What triggers an Insolvency Service investigation?

An Insolvency Service investigation is typically triggered by reports of fraudulent activity or if it appears that a company is being conducted with the intent to defraud creditors.

Such reports can come from companies house regulators, creditors, court representatives, other enforcement action or members of the public.

What happens to me if my company goes into liquidation?

When a company goes into liquidation, this, unfortunately, means that employees will no longer be employed there and may have to seek new job opportunities.

Depending on the specific case, they may also not receive any compensation for work already done.

It is therefore important to consult with a financial adviser in order to make the best of this difficult situation.

What happens if you are a director of a company that goes into liquidation?

As a director of a company that goes into liquidation, you will be subject to an array of restrictions and obligations.

You will lose control of the organisation and the court will appoint an Official Receiver who will be responsible for winding up the affairs of the company.

Furthermore, you may be banned from forming, managing, or promoting any new company or business with the same or similar name as a new company or your liquidated former company name for 5 years.

What are the consequences that a company faces after liquidation?

The consequences of liquidation are significant, as shareholders may be liable for repayment of illegal dividends and overdrawn directors’ loan accounts must be settled.

Additionally, suppliers and creditors will suffer losses, while any business reputation, trading licenses, and other assets will be forfeited.

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