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Imagine you’ve reached the end of the road with your company. Business has dried up, or perhaps you’ve completed your mission, and now it’s time to move on.

But how do you close the doors for good? You might ask, “What’s the difference between dissolution and liquidation?”

Both are methods of closing a company, but understanding the differences between them is essential to make the right decision for your business.

In this blog post, we’ll guide you through the ins and outs of dissolution and liquidation, exploring the pros and cons of each and sharing real-life examples.

Short Summary

  • Dissolution and liquidation are distinct processes with different implications.
  • The choice between dissolution and liquidation should be discussed with a Licensed Insolvency Practitioner for the best course of action.
  • Dissolution is simple, but creditors may object, while liquidation offers tax/creditor protection benefits, but directors may face legal action.

Understanding Dissolution and Liquidation

Dissolution and liquidation are two different ways to close a company, each having its unique process, purpose, and implications.

To put it simply, dissolution ends the legal existence of a business, while liquidation involves selling assets to pay creditors.

The choice between dissolution and liquidation depends on the liquidating a company’s financial situation, such as the presence of outstanding debts and the value of its assets.

Dissolution Defined

Dissolution refers to the termination of a business’s legal existence. It is typically applicable when a company has fulfilled its objectives and is no longer necessary or active.

To be eligible for dissolution, a company must demonstrate solvency and fulfill any other applicable statutory requirements.

Dissolution can be either voluntary, where the company director initiates the process, or involuntary, where Companies House dissolves a company due to non-compliance.

Liquidation Defined

Liquidation is the process of divesting a company’s assets with the purpose of paying off creditors and other liabilities.

On the other hand, any profits made from such sales are then divided amongst shareholders. Liquidation is initiated when a the company decides it is insolvent and unable to pay its debts, or it can be voluntary when the company opts to cease operations and liquidate its assets.

A liquidator is responsible for dissolving a business and repaying creditors. To do this, they must be a licensed insolvency practitioner.

Types of Liquidation

A licensed insolvency practitioner explaining the different types of liquidation

There are three types of liquidation: Creditors Voluntary Liquidation (CVL), Members Voluntary Liquidation (MVL), and Compulsory Liquidation. Each type has its unique process and implications, making the choice between them dependent on the liquidating a company itself’s financial situation and objectives.

Creditors Voluntary Liquidation (CVL)

Creditors Voluntary Liquidation (CVL) is an insolvency procedure that involves winding up the operations of a company. It is the most commonly used form for dissolving corporations in such cases.

In this process, company directors voluntarily decide to wind up the company when there is no prospect of recovery. A liquidator is appointed to sell assets and distribute the proceeds to creditors, who may not be paid in full.

One of the benefits of CVL is that it provides protection to creditors of solvent companies and shows the intention to repay as much of the company’s debts as possible.

Members Voluntary Liquidation (MVL)

Members Voluntary Liquidation (MVL) is a solvent liquidation process that requires all debts to be paid in full, allowing the board to close the company without any further investigation. This option also involves an additional 10% capital gains charge.

MVL involves additional costs due to the involvement of a licensed insolvency practitioner. Dissolution, on the other hand, is comparatively cheaper.

However, a significant benefit of MVL over dissolution is the involvement of an insolvency practitioner, providing assurance that the company’s financial status will not be reinstated in the future.

Compulsory Liquidation

Compulsory Liquidation is the most severe form of liquidation and can have detrimental outcomes for the insolvent company’s director. It is initiated when creditors who are owed a minimum of £750 and have not received payment after 21 days of attempting to do so, request the court to close an insolvent a company’s liquidation.

If a winding-up petition is successful, the court appoints a licensed Insolvency Practitioner to forcibly liquidate the company.

One of the potential drawbacks of compulsory liquidation of limited company is the possibility of legal action against the creditor forces the company directors.

The Dissolution Process

The dissolution process involves submitting an application to Companies House and following the necessary procedures to remove the company from the Register of Companies.

A company director can voluntarily dissolve their own dissolve a company by submitting a DS01 form to Companies House, for a fee of £10.

During the dissolution process, it is crucial to notify all creditors, as failure to do so can result in the company being reinstated to the register and treated as if dissolution had not occurred.

Advertisements are placed in the Gazette during the dissolution process to notify any potentially impacted parties who may wish to object.

Factors Influencing the Choice Between Dissolution and Liquidation

Choosing between dissolution and liquidation depends on a company’s debts and assets. For instance, if a company has no debt or assets, dissolution would be the recommended option.

On the other hand, if a company has significant debts and assets, liquidation and dissolution might be more appropriate.

It is essential to consult a Licensed Insolvency Practitioner when deciding between dissolution and liquidation of business assets, as they can help evaluate the company’s financial situation and recommend the best course of action.

Seeking Professional Advice

Seeking out professional guidance and advice from an experienced insolvency practitioner is crucial when choosing between dissolution and liquidation.

These professionals can provide a thorough overview of financial position, the available options and offer expert counsel outside assistance to ensure a successful company closure.

Consulting with a legal or financial professional who is knowledgeable in business law and can evaluate the company’s financial standing is also beneficial when considering dissolution and liquidation.

Pros and Cons of Dissolution and Liquidation

Dissolution and liquidation each have their pros and cons. Dissolution can be a cost-effective and straightforward method for closing a business.

However, it requires the company to be debt-free and may face objections from creditors, staff, or other directors if they have valid concerns.

On the other hand, liquidation offers advantages such as minimizing taxes, providing assurance of resolution, and safeguarding creditors’ interests.

The potential drawbacks of a company liquidation could include possible legal action against the company directors.

Real-life Examples of Dissolution and Liquidation

To better understand the implications of dissolution and liquidation, let’s consider some real-life examples.

A small, debt-free consulting company may opt for dissolution when the owner decides to retire or pursue other interests. In this case, dissolution would be a simple and cost-effective way to close the business without any legal complications.

On the other hand, a manufacturing company that has accumulated significant debt and is struggling to stay afloat may consider liquidation.

The company’s assets would be sold to pay creditors, and the liquidation process would provide some protection from personal liability for the company’s directors, as they show their intention to repay as much debt as possible.

Through these examples, we can see how different companies have chosen to close their businesses based on their unique circumstances.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is dissolution the same as liquidation?

No, dissolution and liquidation are not the same. Dissolution is a process for winding up a company that has no assets or liabilities while liquidation is a process for winding up a company that still has assets and liabilities to be managed by a liquidator. In other words, dissolution results in the company being completely wiped off the Companies House register whereas liquidation involves the winding up of the company’s assets before it is struck off the register.

Does dissolution mean liquidation?

No, dissolution does not mean liquidation. Dissolution is a liquidation means a voluntary process used by companies that are solvent and no longer wish to trade. While liquidation is voluntary legal closure is an involuntary process for companies that cannot pay their debts.

Does dissolution always lead to liquidation?

No, dissolution does not always lead to liquidation. Dissolution marks the end of the formal means of a company’s existence as a legal entity, while liquidation is the process of dissolving a company, winding up the company’s affairs and distributing its assets.

Though the two processes are related, one does not necessarily lead to the other.

What does it mean when a company goes into dissolution?

When a a company closes or goes into dissolution, it is no longer operating and its legal status is revoked by Companies House. This can be triggered due to insolvency, failure to meet regulatory requirements, or if the owners decide to close the business.

In essence, the company ceases to exist.


In conclusion, understanding the differences between dissolution and liquidation is essential for any business owner or director considering closing their company.

Dissolution offers a cost-effective and straightforward way to close a debt-free business, while liquidation provides a solution for companies with significant debts and assets.

Consulting a Licensed Insolvency Practitioner is crucial in making the right decision for your company’s situation.

By carefully weighing the pros and cons of dissolution and liquidation, and seeking professional advice, you can confidently choose the best path for your company’s closure.

Remember, the right decision will not only protect your business interests, but also safeguard the interests of your creditors, staff, and shareholders, ensuring a smooth and successful transition to the next chapter of your professional journey.

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