Issuing a Winding Up Petition

A winding up order in the UK, also referred to as compulsory liquidation, is a formal legal measure initiated by the court that mandates a company to liquidate its assets and cease operations. Such orders typically result from winding up petitions submitted by creditors who, after multiple unsuccessful attempts to recover owed funds from a company, seek court intervention to issue a winding up order.

When the high court grants a winding up order, the company is declared insolvent due to its failure to meet financial obligations to creditors. The permanent closure of a company can have significant repercussions for its shareholders and directors. Usually, an Official Receiver is appointed as the liquidator, though a licensed insolvency practitioner may assume this role at a later stage.

Expert Commercial Law has access to a specialised panel of experienced solicitors well-versed in handling winding up orders in the UK. For more information on this matter and to consult with our legal professionals, please reach out to us today.

Issuing a Winding Up Petition

Issuing a winding up petition in the UK is a legal process that involves several steps. Here is a general overview of the winding up process:

  1. Assessment of Debt:
    • Before filing a winding up petition, creditors should assess the debt owed by the company. This involves confirming the amount owed and ensuring that all legal requirements are met. A Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) can be proposed at any time, although the company must act quickly before proceedings begin.
  2. Statutory Demand:
    • Creditors often start the process by serving a statutory demand on the debtor company. This is a formal written demand for payment of the debt within a specific timeframe, usually a 21-day statutory demand. The debtor must either pay the debt or reach an agreement to settle it during this period.
  3. Non-compliance with Statutory Demand:
    • If the debtor company fails to comply with the statutory demand by either paying the debt or reaching a settlement, the creditor can proceed to apply to the court to file a winding up petition.
  4. Petition Preparation:
    • The winding up petition is a legal document that outlines the details of the debt, the creditor’s claim, and the grounds for seeking the winding up of the company. It must comply with the rules set out in the Insolvency Rules 2016.
  5. Issue the Petition:
    • The winding up petition is then issued at the relevant court. In the UK, winding up petitions are usually filed in the High Court, although certain cases may be filed in the county court. The petitioner must pay the appropriate court fees.
  6. Serve the Petition:
    • Once issued, the winding up petition must be served on the debtor company. This involves delivering a copy of the petition to the registered office of the company.
  7. Advertisement of the Petition:
    • The creditor is required to advertise the winding up petition in the London Gazette. This public notice informs interested parties, including other creditors and shareholders, about the petition.
  8. Court Hearing:
    • The court will schedule a hearing to investigate the conduct and consider the winding up petition. The debtor company has the opportunity to respond to the petition and present its case when disputing the debt.
  9. Winding Up Order:
    • If the court is satisfied that the debt is due and owing, and the company is unable to pay its debts, it may grant a winding up order. This order puts the company into compulsory liquidation, and they will be removed from companies house. 

Why are winding up petitions granted?

Winding up petitions are typically granted by a court for specific reasons related to a company’s financial distress and inability to meet its obligations. Here are some common reasons why winding up petitions may be granted:

  1. Unpaid Debts: The most common reason is the company’s failure to pay its debts. If a company owes money to creditors and has not made satisfactory arrangements and the debt remains unpaid, creditors may file a winding up petition to seek the court’s intervention.
  2. Insolvency: The company is deemed insolvent, meaning its liabilities exceed its company assets, and it is unable to pay its debts as they fall due. Insolvency is a key factor leading to the granting of winding up petitions.
  3. Non-compliance with Statutory Demands: Creditors may issue statutory demands requesting payment of debts. If the company fails to comply with these demands within a specified period, creditors can use this non-compliance as grounds for a winding up petition.
  4. Inability to Satisfy a Judgment Debt: If a company has a court judgment against it, indicating a legal obligation to pay a sum of money, and it fails to satisfy the judgment, the creditor may seek a winding up order.
  5. Public Interest: In certain cases, the court may grant a winding up order if it believes that winding up the company is in the public interest. This might be due to fraudulent activities, misconduct, or other circumstances that warrant the company’s closure.
  6. Failure to Challenge the Petition: If a company does not respond to or challenge a winding up petition within the prescribed timeframe, the court may grant the petition in the absence of a defence.

It is important to note that the decision to grant a winding up petition is a serious legal matter and involves a thorough examination of the company’s financial situation. The court aims to protect the interests of creditors and stakeholders while ensuring a fair and just resolution.

Companies facing financial difficulties are encouraged to seek professional advice and explore alternatives, such as restructuring or entering into voluntary arrangements with creditors, to avoid winding up orders.

Why choose Expert Commercial Law?

If you have any queries on what a winding up order is in the UK or the process of issuing a winding up petition, then our panel of solicitors can assist you.

All of the commercial dispute solicitors on our panel have the experience and expertise required to take on your case. Each solicitor is vetted before being allowed onto our panel, and we only select the best in the business. All of our solicitor firms are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

Our solicitors also help with other commercial claims, such as breach of contract and CCJ removal.

Please note we are not a firm of solicitors; however, we maintain a panel of trusted and regulated legal experts. If you contact us in relation to a commercial law case, we will pass your case on to a panel firm in return for a fee from our panel firms. We will never charge you for passing on your case to a panel firm. 

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Please note, we are not a firm of solicitors; however, we maintain a panel of trusted and regulated legal experts. If you contact us in relation to a commercial law case, we will pass your case onto a panel firm in return for a fee from our panel firms. We will never charge you for passing on your case to a panel firm. 


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