Welcome to Francis Wilks & Jones, the country’s leading firm of winding up solicitors. Whatever your situation, please contact one of our winding up petition lawyers for your expert friendly free consultation.

Winding Up Petitions

1. How long does it take to wind up a company?

We are often asked “How long does it take to Wind Up a company”? As a rule of thumb, if the winding up petition debt isn’t paid, disputed or adjourned, the winding up procedure takes in the region of 8-10 weeks. 

To make sure that you are in the position to wind up a company you need to have followed the proper winding up petition process. At FWJ we can help you through the winding up procedure including the right search of the winding up petition register at court, drafting the Winding up Petition, drafting the winding up petition witness statement, issuing the Winding up petition at the right winding up petition court, arranging for proper service of the Winding Up petition on the debtor, winding petition advertisement in the London Gazette, preparing for the winding up court hearing and then attending the winding up petition court hearing and seeking the winding up order from the Judge.
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2. Negotiated settlement of a winding up petition

We often act for creditors or debtors looking to negotiate settlement of a winding up petition. From a creditor’s perspective they want to be paid rather than have the company wound up as it is highly unlikely any payment will be received if a winding up order is made. From the debtor’s perspective they want to avoid a winding up order. At FWJ we are experts in negotiating winding up petition settlements, either maximising the return for the creditor or protecting as best as possible the position of the debtor.
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3. Dismissal of the winding up petition from court

If the winding up petition debt is paid, it is important if possible to have the winding up petition dismissed from the winding up petition court record. This helps to safeguard the money paid to the creditor. It also helps the debtor in terms of its ability to run the business and avoid other creditors supporting the petition and possibly still obtaining a winding up order.
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4. Winding up Petition costs / winding up petition court fees

The costs of issuing a winding up petition are split between disbursements and our time costs as a solicitor. Disbursements include the winding up petition court fee (including the Official Receivers deposit, the Process Server fee, and a Company House search fee.  To find out more about the costs of the process and the options open to you, contact us.

In over 50% of cases where we issue a winding up petition, we recover the winding up petition debt, Late Payment Interest, Late Payment Compensation and legal costs in full – effectively meaning the winding up petition process is free in over 50% of cases we act on. Our expertise means that it is the debtor who pays the legal costs in over 50% of our winding up cases. The client pays nothing at all!
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5. What is a winding up petition?

A winding up petition is a formal document issued at Court. It can be issued against a Limited company or a Limited Liability Partnership. A winding up petition is usually issued by a creditor against a debtor where the debtor has not paid its debts. Examples of winding up creditors include HMRC, trade suppliers and banks.
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Thoroughly professional, the firm has wide knowledge and experience of the legalities of the debt recovery scene. Sound advice is always available and provides crucial support with some of the more difficult decisions that we have to make.

Credit Protection Association Plc

6. What happens after a Winding Up Order is made?

If a winding up petition debt is not paid or defended, the limited company or Limited Liability Partnership will be wound up by the winding up petition court. The Judge will make a winding up order and the company will enter compulsory liquidation. This means that a liquidator will be appointed over the company.  His or her job is to try and sell assets and repay creditors of the company.  However, in most compulsory liquidations, there are few if any payments back to creditors. The liquidator can also investigate the affairs of a company and the conduct of the former directors.
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7. Winding Up Petition Court

A winding up order can only be made in certain courts around the country. At Francis Wilks & Jones we are very close to the Companies court in London and can issue a petition the same day as instruction. We know exactly which section of the court to attend and how to deal with the important administrative aspects such as payment of the winding up petition court fee.
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8. Winding Up Petition Minimum Debt Threshold

A winding up order can only be made in certain courts around the country. At Francis Wilks & Jones we are very close to the Companies court in London and can issue a petition the same day as instruction. We know exactly which section of the court to attend and how to deal with the important administrative aspects such as payment of the winding up petition court fee.
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9. Winding Up Petition Misuse

Misuse of a winding up petition is a very serious offence. The court can strike the winding up petition out and punish the offending party with a large costs order. The party on the receiving end of a vexatious winding up petition can apply for what is known as an injunction to stop the petition being advertised in the London Gazette. At Francis Wilks & Jones we can assist in these situations and have our own barrister who can attend the winding up petition court at very short notice. We are minutes away from the winding up petition court in London.
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10. The Winding up Court Hearing

When a winding up petition is issued the Court will always insert a date on the winding up petition when the creditor and debtor can attend court. It is normally 8-10 weeks after the date the winding up petition has been issued. At the winding up petition hearing, the creditor can ask that the company be wound up so long as the winding up procedure has been followed properly. Alternatively the creditor or debtor may want an adjournment of the winding up petition to allow more time to resolve the issues between the two sides. Or occasionally the creditor or debtor may attend the winding up Court to ask for the winding up petition to be dismissed.  We can obtain quick and effective representation at court for you.
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11. Winding Up Petition by HMRC

A winding up petition by HMRC is a common occurrence. HMRC issue many winding up petitions against companies or limited liability partnerships where tax has not been paid – often VAT, PAYE and corporation tax.  A winding up petition received from HMRC can be a frightening prospect. At Francis Wilks & Jones we have acted for many clients who have received winding up petitions from HMRC and helped negotiate settlements for them. We have an expert team who can help on this including a dual qualified solicitor / accountant and our own in house barrister who can attend the winding up petition hearing and seek more time to negotiate a settlement.
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They have a strong understanding of our business and also those of our clients. They also recognise the importance of superb IT systems and we find this aspect of their business of particular value.

Bibby Financial Services

12. Winding Up Petition adjournment

An adjournment of a winding up petition is where the creditor wants further time to deal with the matter and seeks an extension of the original winding up petition court date. This reasons can be varied but normally it is to allow sufficient time to negotiate a settlement of the winding up petition debt. At FWJ, we have our own in-house barrister who can attend the winding up petition court and arrange the appropriate extension of time. Most of the time the extensions to the winding up petitions are by mutual consent although on occasion they can be contested (eg often involving a winding up petition by HMRC) and we are also able to deal with these types of winding up petition hearings. 
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13. What does winding up a company mean?

Simply put, if someone winds up a company, they complete a process which puts the company in to formal liquidation. The trading life of the company comes to an end and it is placed in to formal liquidation.
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14. Winding up Petition Advertisement

A winding up petition advertisement is part of the winding up petition process which must be followed in order for a creditor to obtain a winding up order.  The winding up petition advertisement is a set of prescribed wording which must then be sent to a publication called the London Gazette.  The winding up petition advertisement essentially enables any other creditors of the company, financiers, banks and other interested parties to be made aware of the existence of the winding up petition.  This is because the London Gazette is a publication which is published on a regular basis setting out all types of corporate and individual notices.  These include winding up petition advertisements.  There is a set process for advertising a winding up petition in the London Gazette which we can assist with.
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15. Winding up Petition London Gazette

The London Gazette is a publication which has been in existence for 350 years and is both a magazine and an on-line publication in which various corporate and personal notices are published.  These can include notices such as bankruptcy petition notices, liquidation notices, company voluntary arrangement notices and also winding up petition notices. 
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16. Winding up Petition after Statutory Demand

Some of the options available to someone who has served a statutory demand against a company or Limited Liability Partnership is to then issue a winding up petition.  Whilst it is not a precondition that a statutory demand is served on a company or Limited Liability Partnership prior to issuing a winding up petition, it can be sensible to do so in certain circumstances.  At Francis Wilks & Jones we can advise you on a winding up petition after statutory demand and the best options available to you.
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17. Winding up Petition Bank Account Frozen

One of the possible implications of having a winding up petition served on a company is that the company’s bank / financier will become aware of it and the company bank account will be frozen.  If the bank takes this action and the bank account is frozen, it can have drastic consequences for the company which has been served with the winding up petition.  It is something which a creditor issuing a winding up petition can take advantage of.  Equally, the debtor can take steps to have the bank account unfrozen and obtain what is called a validation order in order to continue trading.  At Francis Wilks & Jones we can assist in respect of frozen bank accounts following a winding up petition.
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18. Winding up Petition by Creditors

A winding up petition by creditors is very common.  Winding up petitions are primarily used by creditors in an attempt to recover outstanding debts.  Creditors can be banks, financiers, HMRC and ordinary trade suppliers.  Winding up petition by creditors is also known as a creditors winding up petition and ordinarily, the winding up petition will only be issued in such circumstances by creditors where there is an overdue debt and an already unsatisfied demand.
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19. Winding up Petition Official Receivers Deposit

A winding up petition cannot be presented to court unless a deposit has been paid to court and a receipt produced (Part 4 of the Insolvency Rules 1986). When issuing a winding up petition, the total court fee is £1,880 of which £1,600 comprises of the Official Receiver’s Deposit.  The winding up petition official receivers deposit is that element of the court fee which is then used by the government appointed liquidator to make investigations into the company following a winding up order.  If a winding up order is not made for any reason, the official receiver’s deposit is paid back to the petitioner and the winding up petition is dismissed or withdrawn.
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20. Winding up Petition Dismissal

It is always possible to have a winding up petition dismissed from the court record.  However, this can only be done under certain circumstances and there is a set winding up petition process to follow to have the winding up order dismissed from court.  There are also time limits to adhere to in order to have the winding up petition dismissed prior to the court date inserted by the winding up court in the winding up order at the time it is issued.
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FWJ is our law firm of choice and we are delighted with the proactive levels of service and recovery we receive from them.

Sylvia Bradley, Director, SJB Associates Limited

21. Winding up Petition Disputed Debt

A winding up petition should only ever be issued in circumstances where the underlying debt (or at least £750 of it) is not subject to an underlying dispute.  In circumstances where the winding up petition debt is properly disputed, it is available to the debtor to apply to court for an injunction to restrain advertisement of the winding up petition and then seek a hearing to have the winding up petition struck out by the court.  At Francis Wilks & Jones we can advise both creditors who believe they may have issued a winding up petition incorrectly on a disputed debt or debtors who have received a winding up petition in circumstances where they believe the winding up petition debt is subject to a valid dispute and the petition should be dismissed.
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22. Winding up Petition Definition

The definition of a winding up petition can be found in Section 122 of the Insolvency Act 1986.  Whilst technical in terms of the legislation, we can help your understanding of the winding up petition definition if so required.  However, with our experience of having undertaken hundreds of winding up petitions, we can safely leave the matter in the hands of the experts.
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23.  Winding up Petition Example

An example of form COMP 1 can be found by clicking on this link.  With all your documents however, we would strongly advise that you take legal advice before completing the winding up petition form yourself.  This is because winding up petition forms are important documents to get right and can lead to serious consequences and possible adverse cost orders if they are filled out incorrectly and then served on a debtor.  Equally, if you are a debtor company who have been served with a winding up petition which has not been drafted by a lawyer, we are able to review that document and maybe apply for the winding up order to be struck out.
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24. Winding up Petition Judgment Debt

A winding up petition is often used after a judgment debt has been obtained in court.  At the end of the standard court process (county court, small claims court or high court process) the court can award a judgment in favour of the claimant.  With that judgment, it is possible to proceed with a winding up order against a company or Limited Liability Partnership.
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25. Winding up Petition Just and Equitable Grounds

A just and equitable winding up petition is a different type of petition to a standard creditor’s petition.  It is a bespoke winding up petition designed to deal with shareholder disputes in a company.  At Francis Wilks & Jones we regularly advise shareholders subject to disputes and we would recommend that you click here to access our dedicated shareholder advisory pages and speak to a shareholder expert of you require assistance on just and equitable winding up petitions.
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26. Winding up Petition or Statutory Demand

When faced with the choice of how best to recover a debt, creditors will consider either a winding up petition or statutory demand.  The choice is not always an easy one to make and at Francis Wilks & Jones, we can advise you on the legal, procedural, commercial and evidential advantages and disadvantages of each approach.  It is critical to get this decision right as the incorrect use of a winding up petition without first proceeding with a statutory demand can, in certain circumstances, have very adverse consequences.
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27. Winding up Petition Rescind

It is possible to rescind a winding up petition if you are a company who has been served with a winding up petition which is procedurally defective or disputed.  Winding up petition recession can be by way of consent between the parties, a formal application to the court or even by a court injunction.  The process can be quite complex and is often required in urgent circumstances.  At FWJ we can assist on this often very important process and being situated right next to the high court in London can attend court very quickly.
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28. Winding Up Petition Validation Order

A validation order is a legal mechanism that provides for companies to legitimately deal and dispose of its assets (money or otherwise) following receipt of a winding up petition. Continued trading in the absence of a Validation Order can lead to personal claims against the directors if the company is later wound up and a winding up order made.

Validation Orders also allow the breathing space needed to organise its affairs and repay or deal with the winding up petition debt.
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29. Winding up Petition Unadvertised

An unadvertised winding up petition is simply a winding up petition that has been issued at the winding up petition court and served on the debtor, but has not yet been formally advertised in the London Gazette.  In those circumstances, it is a winding up petition unadvertised.  Whilst not formally advertised, it is still possible for the existence of the winding up petition to come to the attention of third parties and we can advise you on the implications of this for your business.
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30. What is a Compulsory Winding up Petition?

A compulsory winding up petition pursuant to Rule 7.4 of the Insolvency ( England and Wales ) Rules 2016 is generally presented by either the company or its directors, creditors of the company, a supervisor of a company voluntary arrangement or the administrator of a company in administration if compulsory liquidation is the exit route chosen from the administration.
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31. How to Issue a Winding up Order

We are often asked “how to wind up a company which owes you money”.  The process is relatively straight forward but legal assistance is often very important.  The winding up petition must be issued at court, properly served, properly advertised in the London Gazette, documents completed and filed at court and legal representation arranged for the return date winding up petition court hearing. The winding up court process is strict and the court will not make a winding up order unless all the relevant steps have been completed. At Francis Wilks & Jones we can assist you with this.
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I was very impressed with the service I received at Francis Wilks and Jones. It was extremely thorough, professional and speedy, and the fees were much more reasonable than the competition. We ended up going down a different path than initially anticipated, and they only charged me minimal fees. Highly recommended.

Maja S

32. Winding up Petition Guidance Notes

Winding up petition guidance notes are set out in the relevant sections of the Insolvency Rules 1986. In particular, Part 7 of the Insolvency (England and Wales) Rules 2016 deals with winding up petitions.
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33. Defending a winding up petition

A winding up petition can be successfully disputed and the winding up petition dismissed from the court record. There are many reasons for this. The winding up petition may be procedurally incorrect, the winding up petition debt legitimately disputed or the winding up petition might be an abuse of process. In any of these circumstances proper advice can lead to the winding up petition being struck out.

In very urgent cases it is possible to apply to the court for what is called an injunction – a type of court order preventing the winding up petition being advertised in the London Gazette and becoming common knowledge. This can help prevent bank accounts being frozen and allow the business to survive.
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34. Winding up petition Court representation

At Francis Wilks & Jones we have our own in house barristers, who are very experienced in attending winding up petition court hearings. Often they attend at short notice for companies served with winding up petitions and can help obtain an adjournment of the winding up petition, thus avoiding a winding up order being made and allowing the breathing space required to help resolve the problem.

Our office is only 5 minutes from the High Court in London where most winding up petitions are heard.

If the winding up petition is issued in a different court we can also arrange urgent representation through our network of winding up petition agent contacts.
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35. Winding Up Petition - Specialist Restructuring and Insolvency Advice

Winding up petitions are normally issued by a single disgruntled creditor in circumstances where the company might have many other creditors as well. However there are often better alternatives for the company, creditors and employees than the company simply being wound up.

These can include refinancing, restructuring or putting the company in to Administration.

At Francis Wilks and Jones we have links to many trusted third party professionals whom we have developed relationships with over many years who can help refinance or restructure a company. We can take the risk out of choosing the right professional for your type of business. At the same time we can also help a company chase its own debts which can often greatly help its own cash flow and ease the pressures on it.
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36. Winding Up Petition - Advice on Directors Duties following service of a Winding up Petition

Following presentation of a Winding-Up Petition, a director’s decisions (past and present) may be subject to great scrutiny if the company is later wound up by the court. It is vital that you take advice to avoid not only the company becoming insolvent, but also the risk that the Liquidator of the company may also come after you personally for repayment of company money / assets paid out after to service of the winding up petition. These claims can include Wrongful trading claims, fraudulent trading claims, misfeasance, re use of companies names, transactions at an undervalue, preferences and director disqualification.

Other pages on our website set out directors’ duties in general and risk to a director’s personal assets. Please visit our Shareholders and Directors Advice page for assistance with Director’s duties. You may also find it useful to review our Claims against Directors page.
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37.  Winding up petitions – an excellent debt recovery process

Used appropriately, a winding up petition is an excellent debt recovery tool. At FWJ we know from our results that in over 50% of cases we issue for clients, we recover the debt, Late Payment Interest, Late Payment Compensation and Legal Cost in full.  Other advantages include speed, ease of use and putting you ahead of other creditors.
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38. Service of a Winding up petition

After issue of the winding up petition by the court, it is then necessary to have the winding up petition personally served by a Process Server at the company’s registered office. 

This is a very important requirement of the winding up petition procedure and must be done properly as otherwise the winding up order could be set aside.
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39. Drafting Winding up petition and supporting statement

A winding up petition needs to be carefully drafted In accordance with Rule 7.5 of the Insolvency (England and Wales) Rules 2016. It  also needs to be supported by a properly drafted witness statement.  Failure to get either of these elements of the winding up petition process correct can lead to winding up order dismissal. At Francis Wilks & Jones we can assist you with this technical process.
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40. Winding up Petition Substitution of creditor

It is possible for a creditor of a company who has supported the winding up petition to take the place of the creditor who actually issued the winding up petition if that creditor no longer wants to proceed with the winding up order.
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41. Procedural Steps Following an Order for Substitution of a Winding up Petition

If a party applies to be substituted as a creditor in place of the original creditor on a winding up order, then various steps must be taken to comply with the right procedure following an order for substitution.
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42. Winding up petition consequences

The consequences of a winding up petition can be very serious for a company. It is for this reason a winding up petition needs to be dealt with quickly, very carefully and if possible with the benefit of legal advice.
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43. Winding up Petitions - The risks of doing nothing

The risk of doing nothing when served with a winding up petition is unfortunately more common than one expects. This is because directors of a company already facing financial difficulties can sometimes bury their head in the sand. Often the situation is not as bad as it may seem and at Francis Wilks & Jones we can help you through the winding up process and find a solution for you.
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We enjoy working with them as they listen to what we need and their advice is always commercial and astute. We have also been deeply impressed by their continued commitment to using technology to assist in the recoveries process. Their interactive case management system is particularly impressive delivering quick, accurate solutions together with very helpful case reporting.

Close Brothers Invoice Finance

44. Winding up petition injunction to restrain London Gazette advertisement

If a debtor company is faced with a winding up petition it believes is subject to a genuine dispute or is in other ways defective or an abuse of process, it can apply for an emergency court order known as an injunction to stop the winding up petition being advertised in the London Gazette.
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45. Winding up petition debt paid in full – what next?

In circumstances where a winding up petition has been served and a company agrees to payment of the winding up petition debt, then steps should be taken to make sure that both sides are properly protected.
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46. Winding up petition genuine cross claim or set-off

If a company has received a winding up order and it believes that it has a cross claim which equals or exceeds the winding up petition debt, it can take action in such circumstances.
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47. What can a company do if a winding up order is made?

If a company has entered into compulsory liquidation, there is still something that a company and/or its directors can do to bring a halt to the winding up process such as rescinding the winding up order, staying the winding up order or appealing the winding up order.
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48. Winding up petition explained

We are often asked “what is a winding up petition and can you explain it? At Francis Wilks & Jones we are winding up petition experts and can answer all of your questions.
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49. Winding up petition register

There is a winding up petition register at the High Court. In this you can look at winding up petition results. We can help you access that winding up petition register if you need to.
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50. Winding up petition search

There are various different winding up petition searches which can be carried out. At Francis Wilks & Jones we know who to contact and when at any particular time in the winding up petition process.
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51. Winding up petition withdrawal

It is possible to withdraw a winding up petition either before the main Court hearing or at the main Court hearing. At Francis Wilks & Jones we can assist you with the important issue of winding up petition withdrawal.
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52. Winding up petition rescission

We are often asked about getting rid of winding up petitions or put another way winding up petition rescission. At Francis Wilks & Jones we are the experts at winding up petition withdrawal and winding up petition dismissal.
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53. Winding up petition abuse

Winding up petitions need to be handled very carefully as otherwise, the Petitioner could be responsible for winding up petition abuse. At Francis Wilks & Jones we are experts in acting for both Petitioners and Defendants depending upon the circumstances of the particular winding up petition.
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54. Winding up petition time limits

There are very specific time limits relating to winding up petitions which are important to ensure are followed. At Francis Wilks & Jones we can help you with all matters relating to winding up petition time limits.
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55. Winding up petition fee

In order to issue a winding up petition, there is a winding up petition fee which is payable to the Court. At Francis Wilks & Jones we can help you with the winding up petition filing fee.
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56. What is a Companies Court winding up?

We are often asked “what is a Companies Court winding up”? The answer is set out in the attached web pages and is very important to understand if you are facing a winding up petition. At Francis Wilks & Jones we can assist with all winding up petition enquiries.
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Public Interest Winding Up Petitions

57. Winding up a Company in the Public Interest

Companies can be wound up by a number of different individuals or entities. Most commonly, a company will be wound up by a creditor of the company for non-payment of a debt or will be wound up by the company itself via its directors due to an inability to pay its debts.

However, section 124A of the Insolvency Act 1986 also gives power to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (“the Secretary of State”) to present a winding up petition if it appears to the Secretary of State to be in the public interest that the company is wound up.
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58. What is the Public Interest?

The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has the power to present a winding up petition against a company if they believe that the activities of that company are against the public interest.

“Public Interest” is not defined anywhere and the term has been considered by many academics over the years.

However, broadly it could be said to be anything affecting the rights, health, welfare, wellbeing or finances of the public at large.
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59. Public Interest Winding up Petition Company investigations

Any public interest winding up petition against a company will normally be as a result of a detailed investigation into that company by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Under section 432 of the Companies Act 1985, the Secretary of State may appoint investigators from the Companies Investigations branch of the Insolvency Service to investigate limited companies, if a court declares that the affairs of the company ought to be investigated.

Furthermore, under section 447 of the Companies Act 1985, an investigator can request that the company or any other person provides documents or any other information as the investigator requests to assist with their investigation. Failure by that person to provide such information could lead to them being held in contempt of court and could lead to a fine, or prison sentence.
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60. Public Interest winding up order

In order to successfully persuade the court that a winding up petition should be ordered in the public interest, the Secretary of State must satisfy the court that the public needs to be protected from the company concerned and that, as a result, it is just and equitable for the company to be wound up.

There is no requirement for the Secretary of State to show that the company’s activities were unlawful or criminal, although if this can be proved, then the winding up petition is likely to succeed and a public interest winding up order made.

There is no obligation for the Secretary of State to prove that the company is insolvent or unable to pay its debts – it can still be wound up in the public interest.
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61. Examples of Public Interest Winding Up

Winding up petitions bought in the public interest are not particularly common, although their numbers have increased in recent years, especially as companies are finding different ways of making money, which may be contrary to the public interest.

Recent petitions which have been bought in the public interest have involved alleged scams, where investors have lost money in relation to a number of investments, including:

  • coloured diamonds;
  • overseas land investment schemes;
  • carbon credits
  • wine investments;
  • schemes to save landlords business rates on commercial properties; and
  • any other investment which may not be regulated in the UK or where an investor does not have any recourse to compensation, if the scheme fails.

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62. Can an Overseas Company be wound up in the Public Interest?

The short answer to the question “can an Overseas Company be wound up in the Public Interest” is yes.

The Secretary of State does have the power to wind up in the public interest a company which is registered overseas if it can be established that the company has a sufficient connection with the UK.
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63. Public Interest Winding Up Petition – what can a company do?

If a company is presented with a public interest winding up petition, they have one of two choices – either to accept the petition or defend it.

Public Interest winding up petitions are not issued lightly. There is a higher deposit to pay the Official Receiver for public interest winding up petitions (£5,000) as opposed to normal winding up petitions (£1,600).

Public interest winding up petitions are normally issued after months of detailed investigations by the Company Investigations team of the Insolvency Service and therefore the evidence in support of the winding up petition is normally extensive. As such, opposing any winding up petition is an complex and potentially expensive exercise for any company to undertake.
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64. Public Interest Winding Up Petition Process

The process for winding up a company in the public interest is similar to the process by which a creditor winds up a company using a creditor’s winding up petition.

The main difference is that with public interest winding up petitions will only normally be issued following several months of details investigations by the Company Investigations team of the Insolvency Service.

They need to put together a strong case to present to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, in order for the Secretary of State to agree to issue the public interest winding up petition in their name.
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65. Director Disqualification – Public Interest Unit

If a company is wound up in the public interest following the presentation of a public interest winding up petition by the Secretary of State, the company will pass into the hands of the Official Receiver.

However, following the winding up of the company, it is fairly usual for the Public Interest Unit of the Insolvency Service to then investigate the former directors of the company in order to see if they were responsible for the failure of the company. If they believe that there is sufficient evidence, they will then commence director disqualification proceedings against those directors.
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66. Public Interest Winding up Petition

Section 124A of the Insolvency Act 1986 is the section of the Act that gives the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy the power to seek the liquidation of a company where it is believed that there are grounds that their activities are against the public interest.

The investigation will normally be carried out by the Public Interest Unit and Companies Investigation teams that form part of the Insolvency Service who take their mandate from the Secretary of State. The winding up petitions will be prepared following months of investigation into the company with the directors being interviewed and documents being requested to assist in the investigation. The director should co-operate with this investigation because if not that can be referred to in the public interest winding up petition and could be seen as a negative for the director by the court when considering the public interest winding up petition.
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67. Defending a public interest winding up petition

What can the company do to defend the public interest winding up petition?

The evidence from the Secretary of State (via the Company Investigations unit) is likely to be very detailed and will normally consist of many pages of documents and witness evidence.

However, if the company can demonstrate, by providing evidence from the directors and company officers, that the allegations contained within the public interest winding up petitions and its supporting evidence are not enough to persuade a court that the company should be wound up, then the court will not make the winding up order.
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68. Dismissal of public interest winding up petition

It is for the Secretary of State to prove their case and to persuade the Court that on the balance of probabilities and based on the evidence, the Court should order that the company is wound up in the public interest and a public interest winding up order made.

Several cases have set down guidelines as to what the Court should consider in deciding whether or not to make a winding up order in the public interest.
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