When a director realises a limited company is insolvent, there’s a decision to be made about whether there’s a chance to save the business or if it’s time to close down responsibly through liquidation.

At this stage, continuing to trade while insolvent has the potential to worsen creditors’ positions and could lead to accusations of wrongful trading later on.

The choice to liquidate means opting for a process known as Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation (CVL).

>>Read our full article on the Advantages and Disadvantages of a Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation

Creditors Voluntary Liquidation (CVL)
Expert Advice is a Click Away

contactGet expert advice about whether a CVL is right for you by using the live chat, email or phoning 0800 074 6757

What is a Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation?

A Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation (CVL) is a formal process initiated by the directors of a financially distressed company when it’s clear that the company can no longer pay its debts.

It’s a voluntary step towards liquidating the company’s assets under the guidance of an appointed insolvency practitioner, and is often chosen to prevent compulsory liquidation by creditors via a winding up petition.

The CVL process is designed to ensure that the assets are distributed fairly among company creditors. It also offers directors a structured pathway to close the business responsibly, minimising personal liability and potential legal repercussions.

Quick Quote for Closing a Company

How Does a CVL Work?

The Process of Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation (CVL)

Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of how CVL works:

  1. Decision to Liquidate: The first step involves you, the director, acknowledging that the company cannot continue due to its debts.
  2. Appointment of an Insolvency Practitioner: Once the decision is made, you will need to appoint a licensed insolvency practitioner (IP). This person acts as the liquidator, taking charge of the liquidation process. Their role is a legal requirement ensuring that assets are fairly valued and that creditors recoup as much as possible.
  3. Board Meeting: You must hold a board meeting to agree on the liquidation, and this decision should be documented in the company’s minutes.
  4. Shareholders’ Meeting: Following the board’s decision, shareholders must formally agree to the liquidation. This is typically done through a General Meeting, where at least 75% of votes (by share value) must be in favour of the CVL.
  5. Creditor Notification: The IP will send a report detailing the company’s assets and liabilities to all known creditors. This report invites creditors to a meeting, either physically or virtually, where they can vote on the liquidation process.
  6. Liquidation Process: The IP takes control of the company, selling off assets to repay creditors in order of priority. This includes dealing with outstanding contracts, employee claims, and any legal disputes.
  7. Distribution of Funds: After assets are liquidated, funds are distributed to creditors. This is done in a strict legal order, starting with secured creditors, followed by preferential creditors (like employees), and then unsecured creditors.
  8. Dissolution: Once the process is complete and funds distributed, the company is formally dissolved. This means it ceases to exist, and you are no longer a director.
Ready to Take the Next Step?

We are here to assist if you need help navigating the complexities of Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation. Whether you’re weighing your options or ready to initiate the CVL process, our team of experienced insolvency practitioners offers the guidance and support you need. Contact us today for a confidential discussion about your company’s path forward.

Who Can Initiate a Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation (CVL)?

The initiation of a creditors’ voluntary liquidation (CVL) is primarily the responsibility of the directors of an insolvent company.

However, it’s important to note that shareholders also have the authority to initiate a CVL. If shareholders believe the company’s financial situation is beyond recovery, they can join forces with the directors to put the company into liquidation.

Seeking advice from an insolvency practitioner (IP) at an early stage is advisable. An IP can evaluate the company’s financial position and provide guidance on whether a CVL is the most suitable course of action. Once the decision to proceed with liquidation is made, a licensed IP must be appointed to oversee the process.

Why Opt for Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation (CVL)?

Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation (CVL) is chosen when it’s clear the business can no longer continue and needs to be closed down in a responsible and legal manner. Here are the main reasons for selecting the process:

  • Legal Compliance: A CVL allows directors to meet their legal responsibilities under UK insolvency law, taking early action to prevent further financial decline and potential harm to creditors.
  • Minimising Personal Liability: Directors may choose a CVL to reduce their personal risk. Continuing to trade in insolvent conditions can lead to personal liability for the company’s debts. A CVL helps protect directors from such outcomes by ensuring they act in accordance with insolvency regulations.
  • Creditor Protection: A CVL aims to maximise returns to creditors and distribute assets fairly, which can help maintain better relationships with creditors and potentially protect directors’ reputations.
  • Professional Management: By appointing an insolvency practitioner, the liquidation process is managed professionally, ensuring all legal and financial obligations are met, assets are disposed of properly, and creditors are dealt with fairly.
  • Closure and Moving On: For directors, a CVL offers a formal closure to the difficult journey of managing an insolvent company. It enables them to fulfil their duties with integrity and potentially look towards new beginnings, free from the burden of the insolvent company’s debts.

Choosing a CVL is about taking control of a difficult situation, ensuring compliance with the law, protecting personal and corporate interests, and dealing with the company’s debts in the most equitable way possible for all involved.

Director’s Responsibilities in a CVL

As a director initiating a Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation (CVL), you have specific legal responsibilities to ensure the process is conducted fairly and in accordance with UK insolvency law. Here are the key responsibilities you must be aware of:

Act in the Creditors’ Best Interests: Once you decide to enter a CVL, your primary duty shifts from serving the company’s interests to protecting the creditors. This means taking steps that maximise the return to creditors, even at the expense of shareholders.

Cease Trading Immediately: To prevent worsening the company’s financial position, you must stop all trading activities as soon as the decision for a CVL is made. Continuing to trade can lead to accusations of wrongful or fraudulent trading.

Asset Protection: You’re responsible for safeguarding the company’s assets from further loss. This includes securing physical assets and ensuring that financial assets are not misused or dissipated.

Full Disclosure to the Insolvency Practitioner: Honesty and transparency are paramount. You must provide the appointed insolvency practitioner (IP) with complete and accurate information about the company’s financial situation, assets, and liabilities.

Cooperate with the Liquidation Process: Throughout the CVL, you’re required to assist the IP in their duties. This involves providing documents, answering queries, and helping to realise assets.

Comply with Legal and Reporting Requirements: Directors must adhere to all legal requirements, including filing necessary paperwork with Companies House and the Insolvency Service. Failure to meet these obligations can result in legal penalties.

Avoid Preferential Payments: In the lead-up to a CVL, you must not make payments that favour one creditor over others. Such actions can be reversed by the IP, and you may face personal liability.

Benefits of a CVL

Opting for a Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation (CVL) can provide several benefits, not just for the creditors but also for the directors and the insolvent company. Key benefits include:

  • Structured Closure: A CVL offers a formal and orderly process for closing down your company, ensuring that all legal requirements are met and that the business is wound up properly.
  • Minimises Personal Liability: By acting responsibly and initiating a CVL when insolvency is apparent, you can reduce the risk of personal liability for the company’s debts, as long as there’s no evidence of wrongful or fraudulent trading.
  • Professional Management of Affairs: The appointment of an insolvency practitioner ensures that the liquidation is handled professionally, providing peace of mind that assets will be disposed of correctly and creditors treated fairly.
  • Potential for Director to Buy Back Assets: In some cases, directors may have the opportunity to purchase assets from the liquidated company, allowing for a fresh start or the continuation of certain business operations under a new entity.
  • Employee Redundancy Payments: Through a CVL, insolvent company employees (including directors) may qualify for government redundancy payments, which can ease their transition and mitigate some of the liquidation’s negative impacts.

How Can Company Debt Help

To explore how Company Debt can assist you further with navigating the complexities of Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation (CVL), contact us today. Our team of experienced professionals is here to provide guidance and support tailored to your specific situation.

Reach out to us via live chat, email us at info@companydebt.com, or give us a call at 0800 074 6757. Let us help you find the best path forward for your company’s financial future.

Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation FAQs

The steps involved in a CVL include the appointment of a liquidator, the investigation of the company’s affairs by the liquidator, the sale of the company’s assets, and the distribution of the proceeds to the company’s creditors.

During a CVL, the company’s employees will typically be made redundant, and will be entitled to claim any unpaid wages or redundancy pay from the government’s Redundancy Payments Office.

During a CVL, the company’s directors may be held liable for any wrongful trading or other misconduct contributing to the company’s financial difficulties. They may also be required to provide information and assistance to the liquidator in investigating the company’s affairs.

During a CVL, the company’s creditors will be ranked in priority order, and will be paid from the proceeds of the sale of the company’s assets in accordance with that ranking. The company’s secured creditors, such as banks, will typically be paid first, followed by unsecured creditors such as suppliers and employees.

During a CVL, the company’s shareholders will typically receive nothing, as the proceeds of the sale of the company’s assets are used to pay the company’s creditors.