A company can be closed down using a formal procedure called liquidation, whether it’s financially healthy and able to repay its creditors, or experiencing unmanageable debt. It’s also possible to close a solvent limited company via dissolution, and this is an unofficial route suitable for businesses with few assets.
If you’re wondering how to close your limited company, much depends on its solvency, as if you use the wrong method you could face sanctions by the Insolvency Service. UK Liquidators has over 25 years’ experience of helping directors to voluntarily close their companies, and can provide the support you need.
Liquidation offers a solution for both solvent and insolvent businesses - Members’ Voluntary Liquidation (MVL) and Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation (CVL) respectively. When a company is liquidated its assets are sold and the business removed from the register at Companies House.
Formal liquidation processes must be carried out by a licensed insolvency practitioner (IP), and this provides valuable reassurance that all statutory requirements are met. In addition to CVL, compulsory liquidation is also an option for insolvent businesses.
This route introduces a higher risk of misconduct allegations being made, however, and the reason for this is that you’ve waited for a creditor to wind up the business rather than putting creditors first.
Members’ Voluntary Liquidation
Members’ Voluntary Liquidation offers an orderly route to company closure when the business is solvent, and is typically most suitable for businesses with around £25,000 in profits. It’s a tax-efficient procedure, offering those eligible for Business Asset Disposal Relief (BADR) a reduced tax rate of 10 per cent on any qualifying gains.
Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation
Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation is appropriate if your insolvent company cannot be rescued. Again, business assets are sold and the company is struck off the register, but in this case the proceeds of asset sale are paid to creditors.
CVL enables you to prioritise creditor interests, as demanded under insolvency law, and reduces the chances that you might trade wrongfully. Voluntary insolvent liquidation also offers you the opportunity to claim redundancy pay if you’re eligible.
Any creditor of a struggling company can petition for its winding up through the courts if it owes them £750 or more. This leaves businesses exposed to the risk of compulsory liquidation if they don’t act quickly to relieve financial distress.
The outcome of compulsory liquidation is the same in that the business closes down. As a director, however, you could face serious allegations of misconduct if you’ve allowed your business to trade whilst insolvent.
It’s always advisable to seek professional support quickly if your business is in financial difficulty - it mitigates the risk of inadvertently trading wrongfully, and protects the interests of creditors.
If your company is solvent, and has straightforward business affairs with few assets, you may be eligible to close down via voluntary dissolution.
Company dissolution is a closure method that’s initiated and carried out by the directors. It’s only suitable for solvent businesses, and you must take great care to ensure that all creditors are informed of the closure.
Business affairs are wound down over a period of months, and once an application for voluntary strike-off is accepted by Companies House, a Gazette notice informs creditors of the intended dissolution.
Voluntary dissolution can be appropriate for dormant companies, but if your company has been active in recent times, you need to be certain that it’s solvent before proceeding. If it’s later found to be insolvent, the company can be restored to the register and you face investigation by the Insolvency Service.
Cash flow test
The cash flow test for insolvency is based around a business’ ability to pay its bills as they fall due. If you’re having trouble paying your staff, HMRC, or suppliers, you may be in a position of insolvency.
Balance sheet test
The balance sheet test involves checking the level of your company’s liabilities, including contingent liabilities, against its total assets. If liabilities exceed the value of its assets, your company is balance sheet insolvent.
Legal action test
The legal action test for insolvency aims to identify any outstanding statutory demands for payment, or other unpaid court judgments that have been made against the business. This highlights any risk that the company may be wound up by a creditor.
Carrying out these tests can help you identify the best way to close your company, but it’s always advisable to have the results professionally verified. Seeking assistance from a licensed insolvency practitioner ensures you know how to close your company in the correct manner, and can proceed with confidence.
UK Liquidators will provide further guidance tailored to your own company. We offer free, same-day consultations, and operate a wide network of offices around the UK.
If you are considering liquidation for your limited company, taking advice from a licensed insolvency practitioner can help you understand your options.
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If you are considering liquidation for your company, taking expert advice at an early stage is crucial. At UK Liquidators, our team of licensed insolvency practitioners are committed to providing limited company directors with the help and advice they need to make an informed decision.
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