What are the Warning Signs of Insolvency?
As a business starts to run aground, certain key warning signs of potential insolvency will alert you to seek advice.
In this article we’ll explore what these are. And if you need help, please use the live chat or call us for free, confidential advice on your company situation.
Our advice is to get in touch with a turnaround practitioner at your earliest opportunity. Use the live chat during working hours or call us 0800 074 6757. The initial consultation is confidential and always free.
The Warning Signs of Insolvency are:
- Your company consistently lacks sufficient cash flow
- Your company is functioning at the limit of your overdraft
- You are under pressure from creditors
- You cannot pay employees
- You are spending most of your time ‘fire fighting’ and preventing problems from escalating, rather than focusing on the day-to-day activities of your business
- You have a received a CCJ or other threatening letters
- You are fending off bailiffs
- You have little day to day knowledge of your accounts or cash flow reserves
- You already have a Time to Pay Arrangement with HMRC
Why is it so Important to Recognise the Warning Signs of Limited Company Insolvency?
It’s important to know if a business is in trouble because directors who continue to trade while insolvent risk fines, being made personally responsible for company debts, or even a potential disqualification from directorship, as a result
One aspect of insolvency that surprises so many company directors is just how quickly it can sneak up on you. You’ll be aware that you are experiencing some problems paying your debts, but there is a definite line between being in debt and being insolvent. This is a position that, as a company director, you must keep a careful eye on. As soon as the company becomes insolvent, you must act to maximise the creditors’ interests.
How to Test if You’re Insolvent:
Insolvency is not an instant or immediate state. It can take weeks, months or even years for a faltering business to become insolvent The two basic methods of assessing whether your company is insolvent are as follows:
Balance Sheet Test
Are your companies liabilities greater than your assets?
Cash Flow Test
Do you owe more money at any given time than you can pay? An accurate balance sheet calculation should include contingent as well as prospective liabilities.
We have created an easy to use insolvency test calculator here.
Some people consider the following a third part of the test:
The Legal Action Test
If you have received a statutory demand or a County Court Judgement, you should know these are precedents a creditor could use to follow up with a Winding up Petition, a final payment demand after which your company could be forcibly liquidated. Any legal action may be taken as a strong warning signal.
What to Do If Your Company is Insolvent?
If you’ve received a County Court Judgement, Statutory Demand or Winding up Petition, this means you have creditors who are extremely anxious to get what is owed them and are now using the legal system to do so. That legal system is designed to escalate the situation to a point where those creditors can be paid, or you will have to close your limited company.
Even if you haven’t reached this stage but you’re aware the situation is serious you should consult a licensed insolvency practitioner to fully understand your options and responsibilities. Continuing to trade once insolvent places you at risk of wrongful trading accusations as a director, so it’s important to act cautiously, get informed, and take practical steps to the best resolution possible.
If the following are true of your business, the likelihood is your business is already insolvent and you should cease trading and inform your creditors immediately:
You struggle to maintain your financial obligations and regularly make late payments to creditors and HMRC.
A County Court Judgement (CCJ) or statutory payment order has been made against your business.
The company’s liabilities are equal to or greater than the market value of the company’s assets, inclusive of equipment, buildings, money in the bank and debtors.
The directors or other company employees are not receiving a wage.