Liquidation vs. Bankruptcy: Everything You Need to Know

Discover the differences and implications of Liquidation vs. Bankruptcy in the UK. With this ultimate guide, learn when and how each applies to companies.
Liquidation Vs. Bankruptcy

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Are you a UK company owner who is facing financial challenges? In today’s complex financial world, dealing with economic difficulties is a situation many businesses encounter. It’s crucial to know your options when you’re facing such challenges. Liquidation and bankruptcy are two such choices when money matters get tricky.

Let’s simplify it: Liquidation is like selling your company’s assets to pay off debts and ending the business, while bankruptcy is a legal process for individuals and companies to manage overwhelming debts.

Remember one thing: liquidation and bankruptcy are not the same. In this blog post, we’ll explain “Liquidation vs. Bankruptcy.” So, if you’re navigating rough financial waters, stay with us; we’ve got the insights you need.

What Is Liquidation?

In the UK, liquidation is an insolvency process for limited companies. This usually happens when the business is in mounting debt, or the members decide to shut down. A professional insolvency practitioner—the liquidator—is hired when a business is liquidated. The liquidator will orderly wind up the company’s financial affairs and dismantle its structure.

In addition to taking over from the company directors, the liquidator investigates the company’s affairs to determine what went wrong. They will liquidate the company’s assets to pay off its debts.

Liquidation comes in two forms: voluntary and involuntary.

  • Voluntary liquidation occurs when members or creditors of the company agree to shut it down. This usually happens after the company has faced financial problems, went through voluntary administration, or had a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) terminated. It can also start when the company’s shareholders decide it’s time to close.
  • Involuntary or compulsory liquidation happens when the court orders the company to close.

When a company enters liquidation, it’s like closing shop for good. The company’s directors lose control, employees lose their jobs, and bank accounts get frozen. A liquidator takes over and tries to wrap up the company in the most cost-effective way possible. This is the end of the road for the company.

So, it’s better to learn to avoid liquidation if you want to go on.

Advantages of Liquidation

The advantages of liquidation are as follows:

  • Reduce Debts: Liquidation wipes away most of your debts, with exceptions like ‘Statement of Affairs’ and creditor’s meeting costs. Your insolvency practitioner handles further expenses, staff redundancies, and lease cancellations.
  • End Lease Agreements: Liquidation typically terminates the lease and hire purchase agreements, sparing you from future payments. Leasing company creditors may claim any owed arrears.
  • Cost-Effective Solution: Liquidation usually incurs a relatively low initial expense. The process is funded mainly through the proceeds from selling assets, and it’s often cheaper than the total debt.
  • Relief from Creditor Pressure: Directors may face pressure from creditors, including tax authorities. Licensed insolvency practitioners handle direct communication with these creditors on behalf of the company, providing relief to directors dealing with intimidating letters and calls.
  • Halt Legal Action: Liquidation stops creditors from taking you to court, as it’s considered a voluntary closure, avoiding legal battles.
  • Employee Redundancy Claims: Staff can claim redundancy pay, unpaid wages, and holiday pay. A liquidator manages this process, using asset sales to cover costs. Directors may also claim redundancy under certain conditions. This simplifies the legal aspects, allowing you to focus on a fresh start.

Disadvantages of Liquidation

The disadvantages of company liquidation are:

  • Selling Company Assets: Everything the company owns, like property, vehicles, and machinery, will be sold to pay off debts.
  • Personal Guarantees: If directors promise to pay business debts personally, such as using their house as collateral, they’ll have to fulfill those promises, and in extreme cases, this might lead to bankruptcy.
  • Wrongful Trading Accusations: The insolvency practitioner will investigate if the directors knew the company was in financial trouble but didn’t prioritize creditors. This could result in wrongful trading charges.
  • Directors’ Loans Repayment: Directors need to repay any money they owe to the company, just like any other debt. Sometimes, they can negotiate lower repayments.
  • Employee Redundancies: When a company goes into liquidation, it means the end of the business, including laying off all employees, which can be very difficult for directors with a loyal workforce.
  • Investigation of Director’s Conduct: The person overseeing the insolvency process—insolvency practitioner or Liquidator—will examine what the company director did. If they think the director did something wrong, they must tell the Insolvency Service.

If the director did something terrible, they could be banned from being a director, have to pay for the company’s debts, or, in rare cases, even go to jail.

What Is Bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy happens when someone can’t pay their bills because they owe more money than they have or can’t pay on time. When this financial trouble affects people—including those who work for themselves—who can’t pay their debts, they are considered bankrupt. But when it’s a business, they’re not called bankrupt but insolvent.

So, individuals go bankrupt, and companies become insolvent when they can’t manage their money well.

When a person declares bankruptcy, their financial affairs are placed under the control of a trustee or an official receiver.

How Do I declare Myself Bankrupt?

If you want to declare yourself bankrupt in the UK, you must fill out a form and send it to the Insolvency Service. You must also provide a detailed document called a ‘Statement of Affairs’ explaining your financial situation. You can do this online or by mail, but there’s a fee of £680.

Before you proceed with this, it’s a good idea to talk to a debt advisor or licensed insolvency practitioner for professional advice.

Once you apply for bankruptcy and it’s approved, a court will issue a bankruptcy order within 28 days. This order will be sent to you and the people you owe money to. Then, a trustee will take control of your assets and sell them to pay off as much of your debts as possible. But some things like essential household items and work tools are protected and can’t be taken.

Remember, bankruptcy is a big decision with serious, long-term effects. It might make it harder to get credit and find specific jobs. So, it’s really important to think carefully about all your choices and talk to a professional before deciding to go bankrupt. We’re here to help you understand the process, what it means, and any other options you might have.

Note: A Debt Relief Order (DRO) may be available if you owe less than £30,000 and have no assets. DRO costs £90.

Advantages of Bankruptcy

Why should someone choose bankruptcy? Well, bankruptcy is like hitting the reset button on your finances. The best part is that creditors can’t keep bothering you for money. Look below for the advantages of bankruptcy:

  • Fresh Financial Start: Bankruptcy can give you a new beginning by eliminating most of your major debts. Even if you can’t clear all your debt, the court may set up a more manageable payment plan. After a set time (usually 12 months), you become debt-free.
  • Short Duration: Bankruptcy lasts for just one year. You might have to make regular payments or follow court instructions during this time. One year isn’t that long in the bigger picture.
  • Freedom from Harassment: Creditors must stop bothering you once you file for bankruptcy. You won’t receive any more bills, emails, or calls. Creditors can’t take you to court or send debt collectors.
  • Keep Your Income and Possessions: If you have a job or income, your debt repayments depend on what you can afford. You don’t lose everything you own; usually, only high-value items may be taken to repay the debt.
  • Family and Partners Are Safe: Your bankruptcy won’t affect your family or friends unless the debts are jointly shared. Transferring your home ownership to a partner before filing for bankruptcy can help protect it.

Disadvantages of Bankruptcies

Before bankruptcy, you must consider the not-so-good parts. The process might seem like a fresh financial start, but it can mean losing important things like your car or home. Everyone will know about it, and borrowing money will be tough for a long time.

So, think carefully. There are other choices, too. Talking to a business expert can help because everyone’s situation is different. Now, let’s look at the drawbacks that come with bankruptcy.

  • Bankruptcy Costs Money: Surprisingly, you need money to declare bankruptcy. It costs £680 in court fees. For someone facing bankruptcy, this is a lot.
  • Payments Depend on Your Income: People think bankruptcy wipes away all debts, but it depends on what you earn. If you have no money, you pay nothing. But if you do, a part of it pays your monthly debts. There might be better ways to manage debts than bankruptcy.
  • Not All Debts Are Cancelled: After the 12 months of bankruptcy, not all debts are gone. Only some enormous personal debts are canceled. You still have to pay many other debts.
  • Risk of Losing Your Home: You won’t lose everything, but if you own a home, it might be taken and sold to pay what you owe.
  • Risk of Losing Your Business: If you own a business, it might be taken away to pay your debts. Some parts might be sold, or the whole business could be lost in severe cases.
  • Credit Score Drops Badly: Even after 12 months, your credit score takes a big hit. You have to tell everyone about your bankruptcy for years. Getting loans or credit cards in the future will be hard, and you’ll pay more interest.
  • Public Record: Bankruptcy is not private; it’s very public. It’s written down, which can ruin your career for some jobs. If you go bankrupt, professions like law might no longer allow you to practice.

It’s essential to carefully consider these drawbacks before deciding to declare bankruptcy.

Can I Apply to Bankrupt Someone?

Yes, you can apply to bankrupt someone. You must first show that you are owed at least £5,000 or a share of at least £5,000 in debts. Then, if you want to put someone in bankruptcy because they owe you money, you have to file a bankruptcy petition with the court.

A bankruptcy petition asks the court to seize and sell someone’s assets to pay their debts.

When Should You Declare Bankruptcy, and When Should You Go the Liquidation Route?

Choosing between bankruptcy and liquidation depends on whether you’re a person or a business. But they’re usually the last option and can sometimes be forced on you as a compulsory process. If you deal with money problems early, you can fix things without going bankrupt.

Bankruptcy is a big step, so it’s wise to look at other choices first. Some alternatives can help you deal with debts and the people you owe money to. For instance, talking to a money expert, making informal deals with creditors, or using legal agreements could solve your debt problems. Business Globalizer is here to give you premium advice on what to do.

Businesses may go into liquidation to shut down and ensure that the people they owe money to get a fair share of the money they make from selling their assets. It’s an excellent way to close the business, sell its stuff, and pay the creditors without spending too much money.

Similarities Between Liquidation and Bankruptcy

Even though liquidation and bankruptcy are two different things, and this article is about “Liquidation vs. Bankruptcy,” some things are the same. These include:

  • Financial Trouble: Liquidation and bankruptcy happen when people or companies can’t pay their debts.

  • Asset Selling: Both processes require selling possessions to pay the debts.

  • Debt Relief: Liquidation and bankruptcy both offer relief from some debts.

  • Last Resort: They’re usually the last options to solve financial problems.

  • Credit Impact: Both can hurt your credit score, making it hard to borrow money.

  • Public Record: The two processes become public information, affecting your reputation.

  • Court Order: A court order can initiate both liquidation and bankruptcy.

Remember, although they’re similar in some ways, they’re used in different situations. Bankruptcy is for individuals, while liquidation is for companies. So, you have to be careful while submitting the petitions.

Differences Between Bankruptcy and Liquidation

Let’s discuss bankruptcy vs. liquidation, as this is today’s leading topic.

  • Financial State vs. Business Process: Bankruptcy is like a financial state. It occurs when a person is unable to pay their debts.
    Liquidation is a business process. It shares a company’s things and closes it.

  • Purpose: Liquidation is for companies facing insolvency to shut down operations, realize assets, and distribute funds to creditors.
    Bankruptcy is for individuals unable to repay debts, offering a fresh financial start after a specified period (usually one year).

  • Outcomes: Liquidation makes a business stop forever. It’s permanent.
    Bankruptcy only lasts for twelve months. Then it goes away. If you can clear all your debts within this timeframe, you’ll be good to go. Otherwise, you may lose your assets.

  • Starting Fresh: Bankruptcy lets people have a new beginning with their money.
    Liquidation ends a business, so it can’t start fresh.

  • What Happens to Assets: In bankruptcy, the individual may be able to keep some or all of their assets.
    In liquidation, all assets are sold off to pay off debts.

  • Personal Guarantee: Directors may be personally liable for certain debts with personal guarantees in the event of liquidation.
    Personal liability may not apply in bankruptcy unless specific debts are linked to personal assets or guarantees.

  • Types of Debts Covered: Liquidation covers corporate debts, not personal ones.
    Bankruptcy covers personal debts like credit card bills, loans, and overdrafts.

  • Role of Professional: Liquidation requires the appointment of a liquidator or insolvency practitioner.
    An individual typically initiates bankruptcy and doesn’t involve a practitioner.

Liquidation vs. Bankruptcy Comparison Table

The comparison table of differences between liquidation and bankruptcy is given below:

Financial State vs. Business ProcessLiquidation is a business process. It shares a company’s things and closes it.Bankruptcy is like a financial state. It occurs when a person is unable to pay their debts.
PurposeLiquidation is for companies facing insolvency to shut down operations, realize assets, and distribute funds to creditors.Bankruptcy is for individuals unable to repay debts, offering a fresh financial start after a specified period (usually one year).
OutcomesLiquidation makes a business stop forever. It’s permanent.Bankruptcy only lasts for twelve months. Then it goes away.
Starting FreshLiquidation ends a business, so it can’t start fresh.Bankruptcy lets people have a new beginning with their money.
What Happens to AssetsAll assets are sold off to pay off debts.The individual may be able to keep some or all of their assets.
Personal GuaranteeDirectors may be personally liable for certain debts with personal guarantees.Personal liability may not apply unless specific debts are linked to personal assets or guarantees.
Types of Debts CoveredCovers corporate debts, not personal ones.Covers personal debts like credit card bills, loans, and overdrafts.
Role of ProfessionalRequires the appointment of a liquidator or insolvency practitioner.An individual typically initiates bankruptcy and doesn’t involve a practitioner.

FAQs on Liquidation vs. Bankruptcy

Does Liquidation Mean the Same Thing as Bankruptcy in the UK?

No, it doesn’t. Bankruptcy is when someone can’t pay their debts, and the Court decides an Official Receiver or Insolvency Practitioner should handle their finances. Liquidation is for companies that can’t repay their debts.

Which One Can an Individual File for, Bankruptcy or Liquidation?

An individual in the UK typically files for bankruptcy, not liquidation. The legal process of bankruptcy is intended for people who cannot pay their debts.

Contrarily, businesses and companies primarily use liquidation to cease operations and distribute their assets among creditors. So, if you’re facing severe financial issues, you’d typically consider bankruptcy a potential option to address your debts and financial challenges.

Can I Liquidate Without Bankruptcy?

Yes, you can liquidate a company without bankruptcy. Liquidation is winding up a company’s operations and distributing its assets to pay off debts. While it can be associated with insolvency, solvent companies can also undergo voluntary liquidation to close their operations, pay off creditors, and distribute any remaining assets to shareholders. This process differs from personal bankruptcy, which involves an individual’s financial insolvency.

What Is the Main Difference Between Liquidation and Bankruptcy?

The key difference between liquidation and bankruptcy is the entity they apply to. Take a look:

  • Liquidation mainly relates to companies or businesses. It involves closing down a business, selling its assets, and using the money to pay off debts. After this process, the company ceases to exist.

  • Bankruptcy usually refers to individuals. It’s a legal status where an individual declares they can’t repay their debts. The court then manages their financial affairs and might have to sell some assets to pay creditors.

What Are the Alternatives to Liquidation and Bankruptcy?

The alternatives to liquidation and bankruptcy are:

  • Informal Arrangements,
  • Debt Management Plans,
  • Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs),
  • Debt Relief Orders (DROs),
  • Administration Orders,
  • Debt Consolidation Loans,
  • Informal agreements with creditors,
  • Moratoriums.

If I Liquidate, Does That Make Me Bankrupt?

No. Liquidation is for companies, not people. It’s used when a company has so much debt that it can’t keep running. Liquidation is about dealing with a company’s debts, not a person’s.

If a company is in debt and needs to close down, it can go through liquidation, but this doesn’t mean the individuals running the company automatically go bankrupt.

Last Words

That’s it. We have explored and discussed thoroughly the topic “Liquidation vs. Bankruptcy” for you. In case you have more questions, please get in touch with us. Our experts provide premium business consultation that is specifically tailored to your needs.
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