As outlined in our article comparing the protection of supplies provisions, the Corporate Insolvency & Governance Act 2020 (CIGA) has widened the circumstances in which suppliers can be prevented from terminating their supply of goods and/or services to a company in distress, as well as introducing two new restructuring and insolvency processes in the moratorium and restructuring plan.
Suppliers and other stakeholders will want to identify, at the earliest stage, whether a business has entered an insolvency process.
- The Gazette:
The Gazette can be searched online for details of any companies involved in insolvency proceedings, using the company name or number, notice type or date range.
The type of information the Gazette publishes in relation to insolvency proceedings include:
- notices of appointments of administrators
- advertisement of winding up petitions
- making of winding up orders
- appointments of liquidators by the court
- appointments of liquidators in voluntary winding ups.
There is often a delay between when the event has happened and when the information is published, although the advertisement of a pending winding up petition can give an early warning.
- Companies House
The register at Companies House can also be searched online. Depending on the insolvency process, certain documents are required to be filed as soon as practicable with the Companies Registrar under either the Insolvency Act 1986 or the Insolvency Rules 2016, although there is sometimes a delay of several weeks. Once up to date, Companies House will state whether a company is active, in liquidation, administration or is there is an active proposal to strike it off the register. It will also tell you who the liquidator or administrator is and their contact details.
- Central Register
The so-called central register of winding up petitions is designed to collect information on any insolvency process filed with the court, including:
- pending winding up petition or winding up order (subject to restrictions – for example petitions presented during the Covid period which are initially marked private),
- any administration application, order of appointment or notice of intention to appoint an administrator
- or moratorium order or application.
The register does not generally hold information in relation to company voluntary arrangements, receiverships or voluntary liquidations, and it should be noted there is sometimes a delay in district registries inputting all up to date information. If that is suspected, enquiries of particular courts can be attempted.
There are two ways to search the Central Register:
- by using the public CE-file online or in person at court, which allows searches 24 hours a day against company names. Official copies of documents can also be obtained.
- by telephoning the designated premium rate number which is manned 10am-4pm on weekdays. A maximum of three company names can be searched at a time, and the line is often engaged so can take several attempts.
- HM Land Registry
A Land Charges search can be requested for any private individual, private limited and public limited company for a small fee through the HM Land Registry website. This search allows you to search against the full name and any variations of the name as well as trading names.
- Personal Insolvency Register
The new legislation in relation to protected supplies does not apply when the business is run by a sole trader, however, if you are interested in whether a sole trader is subject to an insolvency event, an online search of the Insolvency Register will identify whether an individual has been made bankrupt or have entered into an individual voluntary arrangement. As with the Gazette and Companies House searches, it can sometimes take a few weeks for the information to be updated.