The Insolvency Service, Winter 2017

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Winter 2017


Criminal enforcement team joins Insolvency Service

City boy

 In a move which further strengthens our ability to deliver economic growth by tackling financial wrongdoing, 90 criminal enforcement investigators, prosecutors and law clerks from the Legal Services Group of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) joined the Insolvency Service at the beginning of January. We are now responsible for both investigating and prosecuting breaches of company and insolvency legislation. Insolvency cases are the major focus for the team, including the prosecution last year of a former city trader who had hidden his assets from the Official Receiver for which he was ordered to pay a £2m-plus confiscation order, from which more than £500,000 compensation to be paid to his creditors. The team will also continue to take forward referrals from other BEIS partner bodies including Companies House and the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate. Complaints about director misconduct or limited companies should continue to be reported to us via our gateway.


Building a modern industrial strategy

Industrial strategy

 The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has published a green paper setting out a vision to build an industrial strategy that addresses long-term challenges to the UK economy. The aim is to improve living standards and economic growth by increasing productivity and driving growth across the whole country. Responses to the green paper can be made online or in writing until 17 April 2017.


Spotlight on: Cooperating with other regulators to prevent abuse of the insolvency regime

Illegal workers disqualifications


Our insolvency regime is well regarded internationally and enables the assets of companies that have ceased trading to be realised and returned to creditors more quickly than in other jurisdictions, including the US, France and Germany. We are always alert to the possibility of abuse however, and a fundamental part of our regime is consideration of the conduct of the directors of companies prior to insolvency, backed by powers to prevent an unfit director from running a business for up to 15 years. A legislative change in 2015  is enabling us to take action to remove rogue directors form the market more quickly giving greater protection to potential investors, competitors and customers. We are now able to use information provided by other regulators as part of our deliberations, gathering additional information where needed, rather than having to undertake a fresh investigations ourselves to gather the same information.


An example of where cooperation has produced results recently relates to investigative material gathered by the Home Office Immigration Enforcement (HOIE) team. HOIE investigates companies who employ illegal workers and can levy fines where this is found to have occurred. Companies employing illegal workers usually avoid paying PAYE and NIC contributions, gaining an unfair advantage over their competitors and cheating legitimate jobseekers out of employment.  They often pay lower wages to the employees concerned and take them out of the protection provided by UK employment law. Using information provided by HOIE, since April 2016 we have disqualified 106 directors of companies sanctioned for employing illegal workers who attempted to use the insolvency regime to shut down their businesses as a way of escaping the fines levied, often leaving other creditors out of pocket through the liquidation process as well. Directors disqualified included a Bristol hotelier who had employed 5 illegal workers and whose business at liquidation owed creditors £139,622, including a £25,000 HOIE fine; the owner of an Oldham industrial laundry fined £15,000 for employing 3 illegal workers which went into liquidation owing £105,367 to creditors and six restaurateurs banned for between six and eight years.


New Insolvency Service chairman appointed

Stephen Allinson

Credit, debt and insolvency specialist Stephen Allinson has been appointed chairman of the Insolvency Service Board, following the retirement of David Ereira. Mr Allinson is a solicitor and licensed insolvency practitioner with extensive industry experience. He has written and presented widely on all areas of debt recovery and insolvency; is a visiting lecturer at the University of Law and chairs the Joint Insolvency Examination Board as well as being a consultant with Shoosmiths LLP. He first joined the Insolvency Service Board as a non-executive director in 2015.

Insolvency forms are changing

Statutory forms for use in insolvency procedures will be withdrawn from 6 April 2017 when the modernised Insolvency (England & Wales) Rules 2016 come into force. From that date, the new rules prescribe the content, setting out the information that needs to be contained in documents relating to insolvency processes, including the required format.

Insolvency practitioners are free to create their own templates or to use the commercially available templates which have been designed to comply with these requirements. We will be progressively transferring the current statutory forms into a downloadable zipfile on our website in the run up to the new rules being introduced.

Compulsory liquidations and bankruptcies

We will be creating a small set of templates that practitioners can use from 6 April 2017. These relate only to compulsory liquidations and bankruptcies and are designed specifically to assist the Official Receiver and our users. . These will available on our website after 6 April. If practitioners choose not to use these forms, the new rules specify what information is required and the form in which it is to be supplied.

Please contact us if you have any further questions.


Gazette notices

The Gazette has also updated its services to enable insolvency practitioners to place relevant information required under the new rules.

Senior appointments at the Insolvency Service

Two new directors recently joined the Insolvency’s Service’s senior management team. Alec Pybus joins as chief operating officer responsible for driving business performance across our frontline services, strategic and workforce planning and budget setting. Alec previously worked as an operations director driving change at the Royal Mail. He replaces Graham Horne who has taken partial retirement.

Ranuka Jagpal is the new director of Business Services which includes redundancy payments, the bankruptcy adjudicator, debt relief unit, the long term asset distribution teams and the estates account. Ranuka is a career civil servant and joins us from the Department for Communities and Local Government where she established the National Planning Casework Unit for statutory cases and more recently, the national Centre of Excellence for Growth Delivery (European Regional Development Fund).


Simplifying GOV.UK for our users

Use of our website has trebled since we moved on to the GOV.UK platform in 2014 and we are expecting more than 7 million page views this year. Now that our presence on the site has bedded in we are looking at how we can improve our content and make it easier to find. We currently offer a set of specialist pages on GOV.UK:

  • single complaints page: brings together the ways to make a complaint about anything relating to insolvency including the Insolvency Service, an official receiver, an insolvency practitioner, a bankrupt you suspect of wrongdoing or misconduct, or a limited company or its directors for fraud or misconduct
  • tools for insolvency practitioners (IPs): a single entry point for IPs providing links to the case management system, director conduct reporting service, Dear IP, the IP rota, detailed guidance, professional conduct and regulation information and more
  • debt advisor tools and information: a single entry point for debt advisors providing links the bankruptcy and DRO application portals, frequently used search engines, detailed customer guidance and more.

With the recent completion of the rewrite of our guidance material we will shortly be launching a new index page to make this information easier to navigate. Later this year we will conducting an exercise to be ask users what further changes you would like to see made to our GOV.UK pages. Of course, if in the meantime if you have suggestions we’d welcome your feedback.

Online bankruptcy applications – one year on

The first anniversary of online debtor applications for bankruptcy is coming up in April. Customer satisfaction with the new service is very high and personal insolvency statistics published recently show applications have increased since debtor bankruptcies moved from the court to our Adjudicator – although numbers remain at historically low levels overall. We are interested to hear how the new online tool is working for you. Our Adjudicator team will be hosting an event on 29 March at their Exeter office for debt advice professionals to reflect on the first year of the online application and Adjudicator services and discuss how we could further improve both services. If you would like to attend please email the team by 28 February 2017. If you cannot attend but would like to give some feedback on the services we would welcome your comments by email ahead of the event.


Insolvency Live! 2017

Insolvency Live!

We will be hosting Insolvency Live!, our forum for insolvency and creditor professionals and debt advisors again this coming July. The inaugural forum last year was a great success and provided an opportunity to update attendees on what we are working on, to ask questions and to share feedback. Topics covered included reforming the insolvency regime, our online services, economic trends and their link to personal and corporate insolvencies and a question and answer session with our senior team and Board members. We are now planning for 2017 and are keen to hear from you what topics you would like the event to cover this year. Please email us with your suggestions and we will do our best to incorporate your suggestions into the agenda for the event. We will open registrations for Insolvency Live! in May.

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