The following paragraphs cover the actions the official should take together with what notices should be issued either immediately, or within 24 hours, upon receiving notification of a winding-up order.
2.42 Notice to the official receiver of a winding-up order
The court is required to give notice forthwith to the official receiver on the making of a winding-up order [rule 7.21].
2.43 High Court and District Registries
The above courts provide the Petitions and Transfers Team with a list showing the result of the hearings of winding-up petitions. Where a winding-up order is made the Secretary of State appoints the appropriate official receiver as official receiver for the insolvency proceedings [section 399 (6)(a)]. The Petitions and Transfers Team notify the local official receiver of the order and enclose a copy of the official receiver’s appointment by the Secretary of State.
Official receivers should monitor the progress of petitions in their local courts. By following the progress of each petition it can be ensured that timely notice of the making of a winding-up order is received.
2.45 Receipt of a notice of a winding-up order
Notice of a winding-up order from either the Petitions and Transfers Team or the local court provides sufficient authority for the official receiver to proceed until they receive copies of the actual winding-up order. The notice allows the official receiver to carry out their statutory functions such as advertising and Gazetting the order (see paragraph 2.64).
2.46 Correct title to be used on notices and correspondence
Once the official receiver is satisfied that the details of the company on the winding-up order are correct they should use the correct title on all notices and correspondence.
2.47 Contacting the petitioning creditor’s solicitors
On receiving notice of the winding-up order the petitioning creditor’s solicitors should be asked, initially by telephone, whether there are any matters, other than those referred to in the petition, to which the official receiver’s attention should be drawn. The standard letter (PSOL) should be sent out to the petitioner’s solicitors as part of the initial notices.
2.48 Petitioning creditor’s solicitors: copy of the petition, etc
The solicitors should also be asked to provide, without charge, a spare copy of the petition (except in High Court cases where the petition can be obtained through the CE file) and supporting affidavits or witness statements. They should also be asked to confirm whether the petitioner is registered for VAT. Further details on the provision of information by HM Revenue and Customs can be found in chapter 22.
2.49 Petitioning creditor’s solicitors: information about the company
The petitioning creditor’s solicitors may be able to provide information on : -
whether the company is continuing to trade,
the company’s solicitors or accountants,
the names of the company’s officers or any staff such as managers with whom they or their client’s dealt,
if contact with the company officers has been made,
whether they have had other contact with the company recently,
how any recent contact was made,
the trading address, the petitioner may have supplied goods to this address if a trade creditor,
any possible assets,
any bank accounts,
any other known creditors,
the trading activities of the company, and
any previous insolvency proceedings such as voluntary liquidation.
2.50 Petitioning creditor’s solicitors: further information
If the petitioning creditor’s solicitors only provide limited details about the company, they may be able to provide details for a contact for their client who could provide additional information.
2.51 Companies House searches
The official receiver should, in the first instance, carry out a search of the information available at no cost from Companies House in order to establish details of the company and its officers. A search should be conducted to obtain details of the current company officers, copies of the annual returns and most recent accounts and where held details of persons of significant control. Older annual returns may also contain directors’’ dates of birth. Copies of the most recent accounts and, if relevant, Annual Returns should be downloaded and copies saved to the case fileplan.
2.52 Equifax Optima searches
The Optima report [found within the “Commercial Report” section] should only be run when the required information cannot be obtained free of charge from Companies House. ORS is only budgeted to run such reports in around 10% of new cases.
2.53 Equifax advanced searches
The Advanced Searching tool within Equifax can be used to help trace company officers, in conjunction with other intelligence tools, for example other directorships of the company officers can be obtained via the simple Director search facility in both Companies House and Equifax. In addition in a limited number of cases the URA (Usual Residential Address) search tool can also be used. Under no circumstances should a full investigation report be run against a company officer unless they are also bankrupt.
2.54 Initial enquiries – generally
The official receiver should attempt to contact those persons having knowledge of the company’s affairs, usually, but not exclusively, the officers of the company. If possible this contact should be made within 24 hours of the office receiving notification of the order, if not it must be made within 48 hours.
2.55 Initial enquiries – information to be obtained
The purpose of the official receiver’s initial enquiries is to:
establish whether there is any continued trading activity and the nature of the assets;
to preserve the estate, which includes ensuring that assets are adequately insured, disposing of perishable or other goods likely to fall in value and protecting the estate from possible third party claims where the public could be at risk; and
to decide at an early a stage as possible whether investigation work is needed.
to locate, safeguard and collect books and records relating to the company’s affairs.
In the initial period after the making of a winding-up order the official receiver should decide whether an inspection is required. Chapter 11 details the circumstances in which an inspection should be carried out and contains further information relating to inspections generally.
Where the official receiver’s enquiries establish the company is continuing to trade immediate action should be taken. The official receiver will need to decide whether the business of the company should be continued. In most cases the official receiver will cause the company to cease trading and notify the employees that a winding-up order has been made and what its effects are. Further information on the effects of a winding-up order is contained in chapters 58 and 11.
2.58 Re-direction of the company’s post
The official receiver should instruct Royal Mail to re-direct the mail addressed to the company to themsleves. Initially the re-direction should be for a three month period. A separate request must be made for every address (e.g. both the registered office and any trading addresses) together with a separate one for any trading name at each address unless they are multiple occupancy addresses (see paragraph 2.62).
2.59 Re-direction – consent of administrative receivers and liquidators
Where an administrative receiver or liquidator is in office the official receiver should ask whether they have any objections to an order re-directing the company’s post. The official receiver should not proceed unless the administrative receiver or liquidator agrees to the re-direction. If the administrative receiver or liquidator subsequently agrees to the re-direction and the official receiver’s enquiries are still in their early stages an application to re-direct the post should be made.
2.60 Application for postal re-direction
The Royal Mail’s re-direction form or ISCIS word template form REDLPO (Company version) should be sent directly to The Royal Mail Redirection Centre, Trent House, Media Way, Stoke on Trent, ST1 5ST. Royal Mail will invoice the Insolvency Service directly and redirection cost is covered by the Administration Fee.
2.61 Postal redirection - TNT
TNT is now delivering post in Manchester, Liverpool and some areas of London. TNT cannot re-direct post but if they are notified by the official receiver that there is a re-direction in place with Royal Mail they will divert all post for that address into the Royal Mail delivery system. This is known as an “extraction service”. TNT deliver and the extraction service is available for addresses in the following postcodes;
London: E, EC, W, WC, and SW prefix
Harrow: HA and NW prefix
Manchester: M prefix
Liverpool: L prefix
When an application is made for the extraction service, TNT will remove the address from their service area and divert all post for that address to Royal Mail who will deliver in accordance with the re-direction. There is no charge for the extraction service. In areas in which TNT deliver post a re-direction from Royal Mail should be requested using the ISCIS word template REDLPO(Company version). Once the REDLPO has been sent out the ISCIS word template TNTES (TNT Extraction Service Letter) should be completed requesting the extraction service on the same address and e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. TNT will arrange the extraction within 15 days of the request.
2.62 Application for postal re-direction – multiple occupancy premises
Due to operational problems and cost Royal Mail operate a policy of not re-directing post from multiple occupancy premises or addresses which share the same delivery point for a number of companies, for example, an accountancy firm or solicitor’s office. If the official receiver is in any doubt about whether the premises are multi-occupancy they should check with the Royal Mail Redirection Centre, telephone 03457-777888.
2.63 Royal Mail re-direction service
Where a re-direction of a company’s post is not possible due to multiple occupancy Royal Mail offer an alternative ‘diversion’ service. This operates in a similar way to re-direction but currently has no restriction on diverting mail from multiple occupancy premises. This service currently costs £1,140 for 3 months and £3,300 per year. Details of this diversion service can be obtained from Royal Mail. Due to the cost this service should only be used in exceptional circumstances.
2.64 Publishing the order in the London Gazette
On the making of a winding-up order the official receiver is required to publish notice of the order in the “London Gazette” (more commonly referred to as the Gazette). The official receiver should have checked the order against the ISCIS file name to ensure that it is correct. Publication in the Gazette is carried out automatically after the ISCIS Gazette screens have been completed (see chapter 5). If the order of the court is varied or a mistake has been made it is the responsibility of the official receiver to ensure the varied order or retraction is published in the Gazette (see chapter 5) and that all the relevant ISCIS screens are updated.
2.65 Advertising the order more generally
The official receiver may (in addition to publication in the London Gazette) advertise the order in such manner as they think fit. The official receiver does not have to further advertise the order if they do not believe it is necessary. See chapter 5 for guidance on exercising this discretion [rules 7.21(5); 7.22(4)]. Further general information on procedures for advertising the order in the Gazette and/or more widely are contained in chapter 5.
2.66 Stay of advertisement or stay of proceedings
Where an application for a stay of advertisement or stay of proceedings is granted, reference should be made to chapter 5 and chapter 8 as to the extent of action to be taken by the Official Receiver.
2.67 Service of the winding-up order
The court should deliver two sealed copies of the winding-up order to the official receiver. On receipt of the orders the official receiver must serve a sealed copy of the order on the company by first class post. The order can be served at the company’s registered office (if any) or at its principal place of business.
2.68 Notice to the local court - High Court and District Registry cases
The company may be a party to legal proceedings that the official receiver is unaware of. They should consider sending a form NORD1 to the local county court where the winding-up order is made in the High Court or one of the District registries. The notice should be sent within 24 hours of the making of the order by first class post, DX, fax and/or e-mail.
2.69 Notice to the court and other parties - legal proceedings pending
Where, at the date of the winding-up order, the company is known to be a party to legal proceedings other than the winding-up proceedings, the official receiver should notify the court(s) and other parties as a matter of urgency (case numbers or other court references should quoted, if known) using the form NORD1, amended as appropriate (see following paragraph). The notice should be sent to the court(s) by recorded delivery within 24 hours of the making of the order, or a faster method such as fax, e-mail or DX, if a more urgent delivery is required.
2.70 Contents of the notice to court - legal proceedings pending
The notice should draw the attention of the court to the provisions of section 130(2) of the Insolvency Act 1986. This section states that where a winding - up order has been made no action or proceeding shall be proceeded with against the company, or its property, except by leave of the court and subject to such terms as the court may impose. On receiving notice the court may dismiss, stay or adjourn such proceedings. The court should be made aware of the legal effects of the winding-up order, particularly with regard to any assets which form part of the estate. The official receiver is responsible for dealing with, or protecting, these assets pending the possible appointment of another liquidator.
2.71 Immediate notice of the winding-up order
The official receiver should give immediate notice of the winding-up order to any relevant Insolvency Practitioner, trade supplier and charge-holder (see following paragraphs). The notice should be initially made by telephone and followed up by first class mail or any alternative which is either faster, or more cost effective, for example by fax, e-mail or DX. The notice should include any references where available. If the notice cannot be given within 24 hours of the making of the order it should be made as soon as possible thereafter.
2.72 Notice to an appointed/previously appointed insolvency practitioner
The official receiver should give notice of the winding-up order to any voluntary liquidator (ISCIS word template form NTVL), administrator (ISCIS word template form ADMLTR), administrative receiver (ISCIS word template form ADMREC) or supervisor of any company voluntary arrangement (ISCIS word template form LSUPAD).
2.73 Notice to trade suppliers
The official receiver should send notice (form NORD1) to any potential supplier of goods to the company in order to stop delivery.
2.74 Notice to charge-holders
The official receiver should send notice (ISCIS word template form NLC) to any holder of a fixed or floating charge over the company’s property.
2.75 Notices to be issued within 24 hours, or shortly after, of the order
After making the initial telephone enquiries the official receiver may be able to send notice of the winding-up order to a limited number of people, such as the company’s accountants and solicitors, local courts, etc. Once additional information has been obtained, for example after interviewing the director(s) or from third parties, the official receiver should be in a position to send out further notices of the order. The type of companies, people and organisations that common and less common notices should be sent to are found later in this guidance.
When the VAT number is known it should be entered into ISCIS. When a VAT number is entered onto a case on ISCIS it will be automatically uploaded onto various documents, including the report to creditors and the IP report on handover (IPROH). It is important to ensure that any VAT number entered onto ISCIS is the correct one for the insolvent. The VAT number should only be entered onto ISCIS where it has come from a reliable/trustworthy source, which would include the petition, the insolvent, the insolvent’s accountant, HMRC or where it has been extracted directly from the insolvent’s books and papers. When there is any doubt as to the validity of the VAT number, for example where the number has been supplied by a third party such as a creditor, it can be checked.