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Advice for business

Insolvency and Restructuring

Frettens is one of only a handful of firms in the area to offer specialist insolvency and restructuring advice.

Malcolm Niekirk leads the team at Frettens. With over 30 years’ experience in insolvency law, he is regarded as one of the leading practitioners on the south coast.


Our bright, approachable lawyers offer well-rounded advice in plain English. The insolvency and restructuring team work closely with the other commercial teams at Frettens to offer a comprehensive service.

Contact our insolvency solicitors in Bournemouth, Poole, Christchurch and Ringwood, Hampshire and Dorset, near the New Forest, Southampton, Poole, Winchester, Salisbury and London

We can offer a free initial appointment to discuss your insolvency and restructuring case.

We have offices in Christchurch and Ringwood with many of our clients coming to us from Southampton, Winchester, and the New Forest or elsewhere in Hampshire, Bournemouth, Poole or elsewhere in Dorset, and London.

To set up your initial appointment, give us a call or fill in our online enquiry form.

What can our specialist insolvency solicitors help with?

  • We help set up and advise on pre-packs – pre-packaged insolvency or administration – for insolvency practitioners acting as administrators or liquidators and also for directors of insolvent companies
  • We help set up and advise on CVAs and moratoriums – company voluntary arrangments – for insolvency practitioners acting as monitors, nominees and supervisors and also for directors of insolvent companies
  • We have many years of experience in advising on the Insolvency Act 1986, the Insolvency Rules 2016 and the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020
  • We work with insolvency practitioners on asset realisation, which may be by sale of business assets, such as land, buildings and other property or sale of a business as a going concern.  Or it may be by realising disputed assets such as overdrawn directors loan accounts, or bringing claims for misfeasance, transactions at an undervalue, preferences or wrongful trading
  • We work with insolvency practitioners to advise them on compliance and process in their appointments.
  • We can also draw on years of experience to advise on strategy and how to maximise recoveries.
  • We can help company directors and boards with their duties and responsibilities in an insolvency situation.
  • We help resolve disputes, working in partnership with our commercial litigation team.
  • We work with our specialist employment law team to advise on HR matters, such as redundancy, arising from insolvency.

Who can our insolvency team help?

  • Insolvency practitioners, liquidators, administrators, receivers, trustees in bankruptcy
  • Directors, board members and shareholders
  • Creditors
  • Banks, financiers and lenders
  • Insolvency disputes and litigation

Malcolm hosts monthly Coffee Break Briefings for insolvency professionals, you can be notified of these upcoming events by registering for our newsletter.

Ask Us at Frettens

Here are some frequently asked questions on insolvency and restructuring. For any other questions, please feel free to ask us via our online enquiry form and we will be more than happy to help.


    Insolvency FAQs

    What can I do if my company is insolvent?

    It can be a daunting prospect to see debts piling up, whether caused by a cash flow issue, a down-turn in the market or for some other reason. If you find your business struggling, you have a range of options, including:


    This is the reorganisation of a business’s structure, operations and liabilities (with the creditors’ consent) to enable it to repay its debts and avoid insolvency. We regularly advise businesses on restructuring considerations, such as:

    • Ring fencing assets
    • Tax implications
    • Reorganising staff or implementing redundancies
    • Selling parts of the business
    • Seeking private equity investment or refinancing borrowings
    • Reducing share capital
    • Renegotiating contracts
    • Demerging

    Pre-packs or pre-packaged insolvencies

    In a pre-pack, the insolvency process is managed to minimise the disruption to the business.  The business is sold as soon as the insolvency practitioner is appointed, usually in an administration procedure, but sometimes in a liquidation.  The sale may be to an outside investor, a competitor, a customer, or a supplier, but very often it is to a buy-out company run by the existing management of the business

    Company Voluntary Arrangements (CVAs)

    A CVA is an agreement between a company and its creditors to repay the debts over a fixed period of time. At least 75% of your creditors must approve the CVA.

    Company Voluntary Liquidation (CVL)

    This is the process of voluntarily winding up your company and appointing a liquidator to sell the company’s assets and distribute the proceeds to the creditors. Choosing voluntary insolvency can have many benefits, including control over who is appointed as liquidator.


    Administration is designed to provide your company with protection from creditor legal action while a rescue plan is formed and implemented. An administrator will be appointed to handle the process and if successful, could result in a positive future for the company. However, if the administrator cannot rescue the company, there is a chance it could be liquidated or sold.


    Moratorium is the new procedure in the Insolvency Act 1986 from the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill that gives insolvent companies a breathing space for a short time.  It protects the company from creditor legal action while the directors work with an insolvency practitioner appointed as monitor of the moratorium.  Administration also sets up a similar moratorium to protect the assets of the company. 

    The moratorium procedure is designed to pave the way for a CVA company voluntary arrangement or scheme of arrangement under the Companies Act 2006 Part 26 or Part 26A (based on reconstruction schemes of arrangement under section 425 Companies Act 1985)

    How does a Creditors' Voluntary Liquidation work?

    A Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation (CVL) involves the directors choosing to wind up their insolvent company. This is a last resort for a company and usually only occurs where there is no viable future for the business and no indication that it can become profitable again.

    The benefit of choosing a CVL is that it allows the directors to move on as quickly as possible while allowing the creditors to recover as much money as possible.

    The CVL process typically works as follows:

    • There is a meeting of the board of directors to agree that CVL is the right course of action, usually decided after receiving advice from an insolvency specialist, and to convene a shareholders’ general meeting and a decision of creditors to decide on what date to commence liquidation
    • An Insolvency Practitioner is appointed to handle the CVL process
    • The creditors are provided information about the financial situation of the company
    • At the general meeting of shareholders, at least 75% of shareholders must agree to wind the company up. No physical meeting of creditors is required (unless requested by a certain amount)
    • The company officially goes into liquidation and the Insolvency Practitioner takes control to handle claims (such as employee claims), deal with the company assets and distribute money to the creditors
    • Once the liquidation is complete, the company is struck off the register at Companies House and ceases to exist. Any debts still outstanding are written off

    Can my business be forced into insolvency?

    If your company has significant debts, you could be forced into compulsory liquidation. This is the process by which your creditors apply to court to close your business, appoint liquidators and distribute your company’s assets to repay their debts.

    How does compulsory liquidation work?

    A creditor can start the compulsory liquidation process by first issuing a statutory demand against you to repay their debt. If you are unable to repay, they may file a winding up petition at court. Upon receiving the petition, you can either accept the position that you are insolvent or defend the petition. It is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible after receiving a statutory demand or winding up petition to ensure you make the best choice for your business.

    If the court agrees that your business is insolvent, they will make a winding up order and your company will be liquidated. The court will appoint an official receiver to handle the liquidation and your business must stop trading.

    The official receiver will take control of the company from the directors and deal with all claims, sell assets and repay creditors. Once the liquidation is complete, the company will be struck off the register at Companies House and cease to exist.

    Can Directors be held responsible for company debts?

    The general rule is that in a limited company, the directors are protected from personal liability for business debts. However, there are some situations where claims can be made against the directors, such as:

    Personal guarantees

    If a director has provided a personal guarantee for business debts, the creditor may enforce their debt against the director, even if the company has been dissolved.

    Breach of directors’ duties

    Directors have an essential legal duty to take all possible steps to ensure the repayment of creditors upon the company’s insolvency. This means that they cannot show preferential treatment to any creditors or continue trading when the company is insolvent. If they do, they could face personal liability and even disqualification from acting as a director in future.

    In some circumstances, if a director continues trading with the intention of defrauding creditors or when they should have been aware that the company was insolvent, they could be held liable for fraudulent trading or wrongful trading.

    How can I get a swear for an MVL?

    We can help with this. 

    If you are an insolvency practitioner working on a proposed MVL and the director needs a solicitor to witness a declaration of solvency click here.

    If you are a director liquidating a company, in a solvent winding up (a 'members' voluntary liquidation' or MVL and you need a solicitor to witness a declaration of solvency click here.

    What is a 'phoenix sale'?

    A phoenix sale is the purchase of an insolvent business by its previous management.  The business goes bust, and then re-opens, very quickly, looking much the same as it did before.  Understandably, people owed money from the failed business often think this should not be allowed. 

    New regulations were put in place on 30th April 2021 to limit this, you can read about them here.

    What is a section 110 used for?

    Typically, s110 is used to split a company that owns two businesses into two companies, each owning one business.  This might happen if a family business has been passed down the generations and evolved into two distinct divisions.

    A s110 can only be used under the below circumstances:

    ·        The first condition is that there has to be a solvent voluntary liquidation. 

    ·        The second condition is that you need a transfer of business property.

    ·        The third condition is that the purchaser has to be a company, or an LLP. It doesn't have to be a Companies Act company. It can't be a single individual, or a partnership.

    Read more here.

    Free initial meeting for all new clients

    We offer a free initial meeting for all new clients, which can take place at either our offices, or over the phone. We have offices in Christchurch in Dorset and Ringwood in Hampshire with many of our clients coming to us from Southampton, Bournemouth, Poole and the New Forest as well as Winchester, Salisbury and London.

    To set up your initial appointment, give us a call or fill in our online enquiry form.