Navigating situations involving financial distress can be extremely challenging – commercially, and personally. The legal considerations are technical, yet we recognise that there is a need for pragmatism, often creativity, and at all times common sense. We are a collaborative team of highly experienced specialists, recognised for our dynamic and progressive approach.
We have vast experience working for and against insolvent companies and individuals, their creditors and insolvency practitioners. We are not restrained by commercial ties with large institutional clients – in fact we frequently act against financial institutions and accountancy firms. We draw on the breadth of our experience and expertise to ensure that, whether you are attacking or defending, you want us on your side.
We act in relation to all aspects of corporate and personal insolvency and, in particular, the litigious work that is often an important and inevitable consequence. The team forms part of one of the largest and most comprehensive dispute resolution offerings in London. Our litigation experience extends to large and complex commercial disputes and fraud cases, often with an international dimension. We also regularly act in relation to non-contentious matters, including the rescue and recovery of businesses and the sale and purchase of businesses from within insolvency procedures.
Why we are different
We deal with financially distressed situations from all angles and perspectives. We act for debtors, insolvency practitioners, creditors, directors, shareholders, employees and other stakeholders. When litigation is involved, we just as commonly act for defendants as we do claimants. This gives us a unique insight into how best to pursue or defend a claim. Our approach is holistic and always tactical.
The team forms part of largest dedicated group of injunction specialists in the country. We are therefore uniquely placed to combine insolvency solutions with other routes to recover assets, such as applications for freezing orders, search and seize orders and disclosure orders.
A key strength is our ability to leverage our extensive network of contacts to combine all of the required resources. Relationships are paramount: we build the team around you.
Financial defence: for those encountering financial difficulty, and related parties affected
We act for companies that encounter financial challenges, as well as the directors, shareholders and other related parties who may be involved. Likewise, we advise individuals experiencing personal financial difficulty, as well as the family members and business associates who may also be affected by the circumstances.
- We have a wealth of experience defending claims brought by insolvency practitioners, including actions brought under the insolvency legislation - for example, claims involving breaches of directors' duties; wrongful and fraudulent trading; and claims restoring assets and monies divested by an insolvent estate prior to the inception of a formal insolvency process (i.e. claims to recover preferences, transactions at undervalue and transactions defrauding creditors). We frequently act in relation to director disqualification proceedings.
- We act against insolvency practitioners in disputes concerning the conduct of insolvency processes, including where misfeasance and breach of duty is alleged against the officeholder.
- We act to oppose the instigation of insolvency processes by creditors, for example by defending winding up / bankruptcy petitions; opposing the appointment of provisional liquidators; challenging administration applications; and, in some cases by instigating alternative insolvency procedures, with the effect of circumventing the course adopted by creditor.
- We advise on the rescue and restructuring options that are aimed at averting insolvency procedures.
- We advise on solvent tax and/or commercially driven reconstructions or re-organisations including members' voluntary liquidations (MVLs).
- Our experience also extends to all formal and informal insolvency processes - administration, liquidation, provisional liquidation, bankruptcy, company voluntary arrangements (CVAs), individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs) and receiverships.
Strategies for creditors: recovery of debts from parties who cannot or will not pay
We act for and advise creditors on:
- protecting against supply chain insolvency, including commercial arrangements aimed at mitigating the risks of debtor insolvency and the protection of goods and assets;
- the instigation of insolvency procedures, where appropriate, as a means of pursuing recourse for the recovery of unpaid debts and/or assets – for example, appointments of administrators, provisional liquidators, winding up and bankruptcy petitions;
- debt recovery litigation; and
- the enforcement of guarantees and all forms of security and quasi-security (for example, liens or retention of title).
Where the debtor is already subject to an insolvency process, we advise creditors as to the submission of claims in the insolvency process and challenging decisions made by an insolvency practitioner in relation to such claims. We also advise creditors as to their recourse arising from the conduct of the insolvency process, which can include taking action to replace insolvency practitioners and/or challenge their conduct.
Insolvency professionals: services for insolvency officeholders
We act for liquidators, administrators, trustees in bankruptcy, receivers and supervisors, on all aspects of conducting formal insolvency processes.
- Dispute resolution
An insolvency appointment can expose practitioners to litigation and disputes of any nature. Whilst we have broad expertise in all aspects of commercial litigation, we specialise in claims that are insolvency-specific, e.g.
Further, we are nationally recognised for our expertise in injunctive proceedings and asset tracing and are therefore uniquely placed to offer a range of strategies to resolve cases that feature fraud and wrongdoing.
- proceedings to invoke the officeholder's statutory powers of enquiry;
- the recovery of preferences, transactions at an undervalue and transactions defrauding creditors;
- claims relating to breaches of directors' duty and misfeasance;
- wrongful and fraudulent trading; and
- disputed creditor claims / proofs of debt.
We advise insolvency practitioners and all stakeholders from the onset of insolvency through to the conclusion of a formal insolvency process on non-contentious matters. This includes advising receivers, administrators and liquidators in relation to trading and any other issues arising on and following their appointment; and advising potential purchasers and officeholders on the purchase/sale of businesses and/or assets of insolvent companies.
We understand the insolvency practitioner's role, obligations and objectives. We have expertise in acting on all aspects of a case and we do so as part of your team. As well as advising on technical insolvency issues such as security, creditor claims, investigations and risk/ regulatory matters, we act as the gateway for insolvency practitioners to access the full range of legal services that are necessary for the conduct of a particular case, which may include employment, real estate, intellectual property, commercial and corporate, insurance and tax.
- We have acted for the administrators of Caterham Formula One Team on all aspects of the administration, which have included trading the team, the sale of assets, disputes and investigations.
- We have acted for the shareholder of a property company (Angel House Developments Limited) in a claim against the former administrators of the company, and the appointing bank, seeking damages of 45m.
- We have acted for the major shareholder of the Marussia Formula One Team in relation to its insolvency and administration.
- We have acted for Group Seven, which was defrauded in the amount of €100m by a UK company, in respect of which we obtained an administration order. We subsequently acted for the insolvency practitioners appointed in a long series of claims against connected parties who had received company funds.
- We have acted for the officers of a large national recruitment company (Options Employment Group Limited) in defence of claims, totalling c£45m, for wrongful trading, fraudulent trading, misfeasance, transactions at an undervalue and transactions defrauding creditors.
- We have acted for respondents to an unfair prejudice petition in a substantial shareholder dispute, relating to Beppler & Jacobson Limited, where provisional liquidators were appointed.
- We have acted for the administrators of a company (Hampton Capital Limited), in pursuing a transaction at an undervalue claim.
- We have acted for the shareholders of company, incorporated in the Isle of Man, which owned a substantial London property. We opposed a winding up petition and an application for the appointment of provisional liquidators.
- We have acted against administrators of a company (Re Business Environment Fleet Street Ltd (In Administration)) in relation to a dispute regarding the provision of services to the company in administration and in relation to an application seeking declaratory relief in relation to the ownership of certain assets.
- We have acted for directors of a US company against UK administrators who had wrongly obtained freezing orders against directors, and successfully obtaining the discharge of those orders.