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Our expert team regularly defend public interest winding up petitions and can help get them dismissed from court. If a company has been wound up in the public interest, our team can help defend any director disqualification proceedings which will inevitably follow. Let our team help you avoid the worst consequences of a public interest petition.

Francis Wilks & Jones acted with great professionalism, responding quickly to my requirements, leading to an eventual withdrawal of the claim against me and my son. I am extremely grateful

A client who approached us just two weeks before the trial of a large director disqualification claim against him and his son

In order to get the winding up order following the issuing of a public interest winding up petition, the Secretary of State must be able to satisfy the court that

  • the public needs to be protected from the company concerned; and
  • that, as a result, it is “just and equitable” (ie fair) that it be wound up and a winding up order made.

The Secretary of State does not have to prove or demonstrate that there was criminal or unlawful activity, although if it is possible to show that then the public interest winding up petition will succeed. It also does not matter, in a public interest winding up, if the company concerned is solvent or not.

So the central and important question is whether the company’s conduct is “inherently objectionable” which was established in Re Portfolios of Distinction Limited [2006] EWHC 782 Ch. This will effectively mean that the behaviour of the directors and the company will demonstrate a “lack of commercial probity”.

In terms of what this means, it can usually mean that

  • the company is carrying out business that preys on the public; and
  • will often induce individual members of the public to participate in a transaction that will have no benefit to them;
  • in addition, it can also involve the company being involved in a scheme that will prejudice the public generally.

The majority of petitions that are bought by the Secretary of State tend to target companies that are set up solely to carry out activities that go against the public interest. In those cases, the company may well be unable to either file evidence to contradict the evidence that has been established through extensive investigations by the Insolvency Service or to be able to revise its business model.

It is also true that public policy (which underpins a large section of all work done by the Insolvency Service teams and departments) requires that examples be made of wrongdoing companies on the basis that this will then, when publicised, be held up to provide a deterrent to others.


At Francis Wilks and Jones, we have helped companies defend public interest winding up petitions which have been presented against them. We can assist with all stages of the process, from drafting witness statements to preparing for trial. Don’t’ delay – call us now.

One of the most astute appointments I have ever made

A company director we successfully defended against disqualification

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