A Winding-Up Petition need not be the end of a business, but it does require prompt and decisive actions if the business is to survive.
Given that a Petition is usually served when a creditor, be it a supplier or HMRC, has run out of patience, a review of both the financial position and the future prospects is necessary before considering the options for dealing with the Petition. There are several.
When a company’s financial position and cash flow forecasts are dire it is not likely to have the funds to pay off the debt such that financial restructuring is often needed if the business is to be saved.
In addition, the cause of the financial situation is often the business model where an operational reorganisation is also often needed if the business is to survive.
Both the review and implementing change are not something to be undertaken without experience where the help of a turnaround expert is necessary.
Turnaround experts, also called Company Doctors or Restructuring Advisers, will be able to put together a strategy to deal with the immediate need to answer to the court on the required date, will be able to advise on what you are legally obliged to do and will help you to plan a strategy for the future of the business.
There are three main options for dealing with the first hearing of a Winding-Up Petition.
If the business believes that it does not owe the amount stated in the Petition, it can dispute the debt and ask for the petition to be withdrawn and apply to court to stop it being published in the London Gazette. However, any dispute needs to be credible, and supported by evidence that will be examined as part of the directions (dispute) procedure.
If the review identifies a viable business but the Petition debt cannot be paid before it is heard then a long-term payment plan may be best using a CVA (Company Voluntary Arrangement). CVAs require consent of a requisite majority of creditors and can also be used to write off a portion of the debt but all too many fail because they are not based on a turnaround plan that is prepared by a suitably experienced adviser.
While there are other options these are covered in the CVA Guide and free articles that are available online in the ‘K2 Knowledge Bank’ or via App Stores in the ‘Turnaround’ App.