What is a Winding Up Order UK?

A winding up order in the UK, also known as compulsory liquidation, is official legal action taken by the court that orders a company to liquidate its assets and close operations. Winding up orders typically arise following winding up petitions made by creditors who have tried and failed on several occasions to retrieve the money they are owed from a company and have then subsequently applied to the court to grant a winding up order.

If a winding up order is granted by the high court, a company is made insolvent because they have failed to pay their debts to creditors. A company closing down permanently can have significant consequences for the shareholders and directors involved. An Official Receiver is typically appointed as the liquidator, however, a licensed insolvency practitioner may take over the role at a later date.

Expert Commercial Law have access to a specialist panel of knowledgeable solicitors with vast experienced in winding up orders in the UK. If you are looking for more information on the subject and would like to speak to one of our legal professionals then please get in touch with us today.

Why are winding up orders granted?

Winding up orders in the UK are granted by the court under specific circumstances, typically when a company is insolvent and unable to meet its financial obligations. Some common reasons why winding up orders may be granted include:

  • Inability to Pay Debts:

One of the primary reasons for a winding up order is the company’s inability to pay its debts. If a company is consistently failing to meet its financial obligations, such as paying suppliers, creditors, or other outstanding debts, it may be deemed insolvent.

  • Creditor Petitions:

Creditors, individuals, or entities to whom the company owes money can petition the court for a winding-up order. If the court hearing finds merit in the creditor’s claim and determines that the company is insolvent, it may grant the winding up order to facilitate the orderly liquidation of the company’s assets for the benefit of creditors.

  • Failure to Contest the Petition:

If a company does not contest a winding up petition within the specified timeframe, the court may assume that the company acknowledges its insolvency, and a winding up order may be granted by default.

  • Public Interest:

In some cases, the court may grant a winding-up order in the public interest. This could be due to serious misconduct or fraudulent activities within the company, such as wrongful trading, harming the public or investors. The court may intervene to protect the interests of the wider community.

  • Balance Sheet Insolvency:

Companies may be considered insolvent if their liabilities exceed their assets, a situation often referred to as balance sheet insolvency. This financial imbalance can prompt the court to grant a winding up order to resolve the affairs of the company.

Prior to filing a winding up petition, a creditor may issue a statutory demand to the company, requesting payment of the debt. If the company fails to comply with the demand within a specified period, it may be taken as evidence of insolvency, and the creditor may proceed to petition the court for a winding up order.

  • Shareholder Disputes:

Serious disputes among shareholders or directors, leading to a breakdown in the governance structure, may also be a factor prompting the court to grant a winding up order. This could be the case if the court believes that the company’s affairs cannot be conducted in the best interests of its stakeholders.

It’s important to note that the decision to grant a winding up order is a serious legal step and is typically taken with the aim of protecting the interests of creditors and stakeholders. The court considers the evidence presented and ensures that the process is fair and just, providing an orderly resolution to the financial challenges faced by the company.

Can winding up orders in the UK be challenged?

Winding up orders in the UK can be challenged through various means. Companies may dispute the grounds for the order, presenting evidence of a genuine dispute over the debt or showcasing the ability to pay or settle the outstanding amount. A Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) may also be a viable option in which debts are paid over a longer time period and the company can avoid liquidation.

Challenges can also be based on procedural errors during the court process, such as improper notice or other irregularities.

Demonstrating company solvency or appealing to public interest, arguing that the company can continue to trade profitably and contribute positively to the economy, are additional grounds for challenges. If a liquidator has been appointed, challenges may involve contesting the appointment based on procedural lapses or proposing a more suitable candidate.

It’s crucial to act quickly and seek legal advice from professionals with expertise in insolvency law to navigate the specific circumstances and timelines associated with challenging a winding-up order.

If you fail to challenge the order in time or cannot take any of the routes to challenge then the liquidation will proceed and the winding up order will be advertised in the London Gazette, meaning it will be seen by banks and HMRC. This inevitably will lead banks to closing the company’s bank accounts.

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. 



Schedule Your Free Consultation

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. 


Contact us today
close slider