Alison Curry elected to R3’s National Council

We are delighted to announce that Insolvency Support Services director Alison Curry has been elected to the National Council of insolvency and restructuring trade body R3. The Council, comprising senior professionals from across the profession, plays a vital role in the strategic decision-making process of R3.

With Alison’s election confirmed at R3’s AGM on Friday 24 April, fellow Insolvency Support Services director Eileen Maclean commented: “We are very proud indeed that Alison has been elected to serve in this important position with R3. She brings an exceptional wealth and depth of insolvency expertise and practical experience to the role.”

Having joined Insolvency Support Services in 2018, Alison provides a range of compliance, training, outsourcing and practice support services to clients throughout the UK. An engaging public speaker and trainer, she specialises in the practical application of insolvency law and regulation and the drafting of regulatory guidance. Prior to joining Insolvency Support Services, Alison was Head of Regulatory Standards & Support at the Insolvency Practitioners Association.

Alison said: “As a career insolvency practitioner who believes passionately in the value of the work the profession undertakes and the need to support that work, I’m excited to be joining R3’s National Council. R3 will play an essential role in supporting the insolvency profession as we help businesses cope with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. As an R3 Council member, I am looking forward in particular to bringing my first-hand experience of both the demands of working in a small practice and the machinery of the regulatory arena to the role.”

Insolvency in the time of coronavirus

Eileen Maclean outlines the challenges of COVID-19 for insolvency practitioners.

We are used to dealing with emergencies with no notice – we are IPs after all – but the speed of response demanded from the business community by the outbreak of coronavirus was unprecedented. Vast numbers of us now work from home and are finding new and innovative ways to manage our cases and deal with our clients and contacts. At the heart of the solution is IT – but IT cannot replace every aspect of an IP’s role. In this month’s article I consider some of the challenges for IPs in this time of coronavirus and how we can help you.

New appointments and AML risks

One of the first things we were asked was can we still take appointments where we have not met the directors in person? We think the answer is yes – but there are a couple of things to note. Firstly, you need to be aware of the AML risk since you are not meeting the directors in person. Adjust your AML policies and procedures accordingly and record this new channel and the risks it poses, if this is a new process for your business. If you are using an online verification tool, the risk is lessened, but make sure that you keep identification under review and check that you are not inadvertently enabling money laundering, the burial of some dubious pre-insolvency activity or giving advice without fully understanding the problems facing the business. Secondly, only if you or your agent must, and it is safe to do so having taken the necessary precautions in line with government advice, visit the premises, and make sure that they are subject to appropriate security measures, in line with your insurer’s requirements.

Advice to directors

The wrongful trading provisions may have been suspended for a period of three months as an eye-catching policy response to the difficulties of running a company in these unprecedented times, but directors are not completely off the hook. Misfeasance provisions in terms of section 212 remain firmly in place, and nothing alters your responsibility to quantify the director’s loan account, examine inter-company or related party transactions or transactions at undervalue or in preference. Your advice to directors at this time needs to reflect that. Unfit conduct is not going to go away, and you need to remind them your obligation to review and investigate will continue. We have a new checklist Investigations and CDDA and two supporting online sessions: Pre-appointment advice to directors and SIP2 and Investigations, which you can purchase separately or as a package with a discount.

Moratorium and other rescue provisions

At the time of writing, we have yet to see a draft of the UK government’s moratorium and rescue proposals although we expect them to build on the BEIS response to the Insolvency and Corporate Governance consultation. That contains proposals for a new moratorium to assist business rescue, the prohibition of termination clauses on the grounds of insolvency and a new restructuring process that will allow cross cram-down onto secured and/or unsecured creditors. As always, the devil will be in the detail, and the speed at which it is likely to be introduced. In the meantime the profession, supported by the courts, finds faster, inventive approaches to retail and high street casualties with a ‘light touch’ administration appointment in Debenhams.

Reputational risk

The sun will set in 2022 on the single regulator provisions introduced by SBEE Act 2015 following a review of the regulatory landscape. There is no indication at the moment what the government response to the formal consultation might have been pre-pandemic, but our approach in these dramatic times may well dictate whether we retain the privilege of self-regulation in the future.

The revised Insolvency Ethics Code was published at the start of the year and comes into effect on 1 May 2020. You can get to grips with the changes in our online session. Insolvency and IPs have not been far from the headlines in recent years, and we are headlining again now, big time. Our approach, our fees and our conduct are centre-stage of press, public and government scrutiny and one of our biggest challenges in these times is managing and protecting our collective professional reputation. The introduction of our new ethics code is uncannily well-timed.

COVID-19 our response

And therefore, to assist you in these times, we have prepared a free-to-view video: COVID-19: An Insolvency Practitioner’s Risk and Response. It covers dealing with employees – your and your cases’ workforce – risks and challenges presented by working from home, contributions management, protecting estate funds and assets, and meeting your statutory obligations.

Preferential status for HMRC

Following my February article on the return of preferential status for HMRC, due originally to commence on 6 April 2020, it is marginally gratifying to see the provision has been delayed until late 2020. We can’t predict at this stage HMRC’s overall exposure to lost revenue (but we know it will be a lot) or what their approach will be to collections (but we can guess) and in light of the widespread expected increase in numbers of insolvencies, whether they will be geared up to exercise their role as preferential creditor in a significantly higher number of insolvencies than a benign economic environment would produce (we can only hope).

Conclusion

We are always here to assist and protect your business. Please get in touch if we can help.

In the meantime, stay safe in these challenging times.

First published in the April 2020 edition of RECOVERY NEWS and reproduced with the permission of R3 and GTI Media.

Brand new Investigation and CDDA Checklist

We now have an Investigation and CDDA checklist, intended for use by IPs and their staff dealing with investigations into company director conduct, recovery and disqualification.  Applying across insolvent liquidation, administration and receivership, the checklist reflects current insolvency and CDDA legislation and all statutory references are hyperlinked to the relevant sections.  

The checklist retails for £500 (ex VAT).

There are two supporting online sessions: Pre-appointment advice to directors and SIP2 and Investigations, which normally retail for £50 (ex VAT) per participant.  One single use registration of each online session will be included with the purchase of the checklist for a limited period of time.  For two or more registrations to each session, please speak to us directly.

Coronavirus: An IP’s Risk and Response

Our job at Insolvency Support Services is to support your business. We have produced this short, free to view online presentation to assist and protect your practice as you deal with the exceptional circumstances of COVID-19.  We’ve considered the risks for your insolvency practice, and suggested practical responses and strategies for addressing these.

We have also set out below how we can assist you to meet these challenges. Please contact us at enquries@insolvencysupportservices.com if we can help in any way.

Documentation and Policies

Revised policies and protocols for contribution management

Working from home policy

Data Processing Impact Assessment

Data Protection policies and registers
Online Learning

AML2020 update

Compliance Awareness Online Learning covering: GDPR, AML, Ethics and Vulnerability – ideal introductions to staff new to insolvency or looking for a refresher of these subjects

Social Media on Appointment

Foundations in Insolvency
Outsourcing

Case Reviews

Case Closure

Case Progression and annual reports

Current Guidance  

For reference, following are links to the latest guidance from AiB and IPA.


AiB – COVID-19 – Contingency Arrangements

IPA – Insolvency Guidance Papers: Control of cases

Covid-19: Important information for IPA members

Business Continuity Statement (17 March 2020)

We would like to update you on our approach to service delivery in light of the current situation and Government advice. We appreciate that these are uncertain times for everyone, but as a team we remain open for business and can be reached in the usual way. We will continue to support your business and maintain continuity of services wherever possible.

ISS Training

Here at ISS, we are used to agile working. GoToMeeting allows us to meet with you remotely and our recent investment in online training provision means that our training courses continue to be accessible across a number of platforms. Our online courses are hosted on GoToWebinar or our Moodle School platform: www.isstraining.moodle.school and we will be adding more online resource over the coming weeks. Let us know if you have a particular requirement.

We will be in touch with everyone that has a pre-existing face-to-face course booking to discuss options. Up to date details of all our rescheduled courses can be found on our website at: https://insolvencysupportservices.com/iss-training

CPI/CPPI/JIE

If you are an exam student, we will be in touch with you separately regarding arrangements for your training.

Should you have any questions or queries, please do get in touch. We very much appreciate your continued support of our business.

In the meantime, we hope that you stay well, and we wish you and your families the very best at this difficult time.

Eileen Maclean
Director

Celebrating International Women’s Day 2020

Today, on International Women’s Day (8 March 2020), we celebrate the achievements of all women, with a special mention for our outstanding colleagues, clients and contacts here at Insolvency Support Services. An equal world is an enabled world.

 

New Practice Management Workshops

Insolvency Support Services is delighted to launch our new Practice Management Workshops. A brand-new training stream, our workshops are designed to keep you up to date with your regulatory requirements. The programme will help you build or improve an efficient, robustly compliant insolvency practice in a cost-effective manner.

This stream is intended for insolvency practitioners (particularly sole practitioners or SME businesses), those considering obtaining their insolvency licence or setting up in practice, and anyone responsible for internal compliance processes or with an interest in the subject matter.

There are five workshops to attend or choose from, running in London, Birmingham and Edinburgh throughout 2020:

• Practical AML Policies and Procedures
• Financial Controls and Annual Compliance Statements
• Data Privacy and Cyber Crime Prevention Policies
• Avoiding Discrimination and Making Adjustments to Services
• PII, Bonding and Insurance considerations

Attend all five and pay for just four workshops or choose the workshops that meet your practice’s needs, in the venue that’s most convenient for you.

For full details of each workshop, click here.

CPD Learning Outcomes

• Keep up to date with current regulatory requirements
• Learn how to build or improve an efficient, robustly compliant practice
• Cost effectively implement statutory and regulatory requirements into your business
• Reduce your practice’s risk profile

Cost

Each half day workshop: £155 + VAT

Book three workshops and get our usual 50% discount on the third workshop: £387.50 + VAT

Book four workshops for just £527 + VAT

Book all five workshops and get five for the price of four: £620 + VAT

Bespoke In-House

We can also run this training in-house for your team. This is a cost-effective option for larger practices. Contact us to discuss available dates and requirements.

Half day course: £975 + VAT

Full day course: £1,950 + VAT

 

 

 

 

HMRC: the return of preferential status

As IPs, we know something about everything to do with running a business – whether that is our own business or the insolvent one over which we have been appointed. We understand the business environment, our legal and statutory obligations, accounts and how quickly a profit can descend into a loss. We are employers, officers of the court, personally liable, licensed insolvency practitioners and, now, we are tax experts as well. Or we will be.

At least, that’s what it feels like. We have always had to know something about tax – how and when to account for it (or more often, when it should have been accounted for), what the UK tax regime looks like and how it operates, our role in reporting insolvency to the tax authorities and dealing with claims. But increasingly, our language is becoming more specialist and we are talking the language of tax in much greater detail in conjunction with insolvency-speak.

The language of tax

There are many aspects of tax law that impinge on us as IPs and there are more changes coming our way. The language of insolvency now borrows from the language of tax and we need to be able to talk IR35, loan charges, entrepreneurial relief and director’s personal responsibility for corporation tax.

The return of preferential status is one of the biggest changes we have seen to the insolvency/tax dialogue since 2003, when the then Labour government, supporting entrepreneurs and their right to a second chance, abolished Crown preference for any outstanding PAYE/NIC deductions relating to the 12-month period immediately prior to the insolvency, and any outstanding VAT for the period of six months immediately prior to the insolvency. Banks, as the predominant holders of floating charges, would benefit from the reduction of preferential creditor claims and so the prescribed part was born, with the prime purpose of ensuring there was at least one modest reason for an ordinary unsecured creditor to engage with an IP. Here we are, 17 years later, with a now Conservative government ready to shoehorn the ‘Crown’ back into preferential status, this time at the expense of the lending banks rather than the unsecured creditor class. The prescribed part will remain, but none of its benefits will be enhanced. Qualifying decision procedures haven’t encouraged creditor engagement and the return of preferential status for HMRC will kill off what engagement has persisted to date.

Therefore, taken together, what do we think the impact of all of this tax talk will be? The HMRC-led onslaught of the UK’s entrepreneurs will lead to more appointments – probably. That’s generally a ‘good thing’ from an IP’s perspective, but a bad thing from the wider economy’s perspective. But let’s face it, it’s bad for us too: fee recovery and a return to creditors requires buyers with funds and an expectation of an economic environment subject to a degree of stability in which a purchaser can usefully set their newly acquired assets to work.

And who is going to be our principal, arguably only, customer? HMRC of course. It is going to be scooping the cash out of our insolvencies as a result of its preferential status and then pursing the director for any shortfall.

Let’s hope that HMRC has geared up for its new leading role as principal creditor in insolvency land, because IPs are going to be pursuing the taxman for much more than tax clearance. Fee approval, administration proposals, IVA and CVA proposals, modifications… if HMRC doesn’t get to grips with the volume of requests coming its way, expect the courts to become much busier – costs higher, and dividends lower.

First dibs

Lending patterns and security obligations will change (and indeed anecdotally are already doing so). If you are a lender to business with an existing exposure, or are contemplating a new lend, your floating charge might not be quite so valuable. Yes, it’s still a good idea to have one so that you can appoint administrators, but HMRC will have first dibs on the cash that we generate, ahead of your floater. Asset-backed lending became a thing in the 1990s, and my prediction is that it will be a much bigger thing in the 2020s, so that any recovery is in the fixed charge category, ahead of the preferential category. Mind you, that only really works in England and Wales, since English law enables fixed charges over many more categories of asset than Scots law.

And directors – who would be a director now? Personal liability for any government debt owed by the company can’t be far away (but perhaps we shouldn’t put ideas in their head).

Jaded and cynical I may be, but this is serious stuff, and it’s difficult to talk about tax in insolvency without taking a position, or a view. R3 have done just that and as an R3 member you can write to your MP and set out your concerns. Contact the policy team at R3 for details.

And what is all of this going to look like in practice? To find out, watch our  One Hour Series: Technical Short: The Return of HMRC Preferential Status.

And if you want to know lots more about tax and insolvency, you can find details of our Tax and Insolvency Course taking place later this year. Book online here

First published in the February 2020 edition of RECOVERY NEWS and reproduced with the permission of R3 and GTI Media.

New ISS Training website and 2020 course programme

We are delighted to launch our comprehensive new directory of courses for 2020 on our brand-new bespoke ISS Training website. Click here to access our new online booking platform – from which you can book and pay online – to see our complete range of training courses running throughout 2020 and online.

We have added new streams to our training offering, with Practice Management Workshops and Compliance Awareness Online Learning joining our ever-popular Foundations, Exam Training, One Hour Series, Technical Updates, Masterclasses and Personal and Business Development.   You can search for courses by stream, date or location.

Brand New: Practice Management Workshops

Designed specifically for the SME or sole IP, or those responsible for compliance in their team, out new Practice Management Workshops consider, discuss and develop practical policies and procedures that you can implement in your practice to meet your legal obligations in a manner that enhances your business in a cost effective and timely manner.

There are five workshops to choose from:

  • Practical AML Policies and Procedures;
  • Financial Controls and Annual Compliance Statements;
  • Data Privacy and Cyber Crime Prevention;
  • Avoiding Discrimination;
  • PII, Bonding and Insurance Considerations.

Choose to attend all five and pay for just four.  Workshops will run throughout 2020 in Birmingham, London and Edinburgh.  Click here for full details.

Compliance Awareness Online Learning

Tailored specifically for insolvency teams, our Compliance Awareness Online Learning allows you to manage your insolvency compliance risks cost effectively, meet your statutory training requirements and protect your firm’s reputation.  Delivered across four modules, on line, with certification on completion, these courses on Anti-Money Laundering, Data Protection, Vulnerability and Ethics will enable your team to grasp the key legal, regulatory and business issues related to each area, understand their relevance to their role, and apply their learning in an insolvency environment. Click here for more information.

Book and Pay Online

All of our courses are detailed on our ISS Training website, and you can now book and pay online if you wish.  If you book three places at a Technical Update, Masterclass or One Hour Series you will qualify for our usual great discount of 50% off the third booking.

If you prefer us to invoice you, or to have your booking processed by us, you can phone us on 0845 601 7570 or email courses@insolvencysupportservices.com

If you wish to purchase a pre-recorded webinar, you can book and pay online, and access will be available as soon as payment is processed – this means you can catch up on your CPD at any time!

Register Your Interest / Bespoke In-House Training

On our new site you will find all of our scheduled courses for 2020, as well as our catalogue of courses that we can run publicly or in-house.  You can register your interest in a course in your area and we will advise you when we can run it.  If you wish to run any of our courses in-house, contact us directly.

We look forward to welcoming you on one of our courses soon.

The quality of IP reporting: a cause of creditor confusion?

Yvonne Joyce and Eileen Maclean provide an insight into insolvency practitioner reporting in corporate insolvency proceedings.

  • Insolvency reports, including statements of affairs, abstracts of receipts and payments (R&Ps), trading accounts, estimated outcome statements and the accompanying qualitative narrative, are a primary channel of communication between insolvency practitioners (IPs), creditors and shareholders. Insolvency reports provide creditors with information on how the IP has maximised value for the creditors and stewardship information on how the IP has managed scarce resources.
  • Statements of Insolvency Practice 7, 9 and 14 set out the principles under which this information should be presented, but the indirect findings of a large-scale empirical research project undertaken by academics at Glasgow University suggests that reporting in insolvency is not straightforward, despite the requirements of the relevant SIPs.
  • Yvonne Joyce and Eileen Maclean analyse the challenges this presents to the creditor body (the primary recipient of these reports) in terms of their ability to fully understand how the insolvency has been managed and to quantify the amounts paid out as dividends, and suggest room for improvement in practitioner reporting if the insolvency reports are to fulfil their important accountability and trust-building roles and comply with relevant SIPs.

Contemporary analysis of corporate reporting underlines the importance of robust communication between companies and a range of stakeholders. Corporate reports provide information on performance and stewardship information relating to the management of resources. Corporate reporting is therefore a key mechanism by which managers can account for their decisions and actions to different stakeholders. Corporate reports are also recognised as an important means of restoring trust among market participants (ICAS, 2018)<1>. The relevance of the above analyses to insolvency reporting ought to be clear. Insolvency reports, including statements of affairs, abstracts of receipts and payments (R&Ps), trading accounts, estimated outcome statements and the accompanying qualitative narrative, are a primary channel of communication between insolvency practitioners (IPs) and creditors and shareholders. Insolvency reports provide creditors with information on how the IP has maximised value for the creditors and stewardship information on how the IP has managed scarce resources.

Academic research has drawn attention to ‘information’ and ‘competence’ gaps between IPs and creditors (Joyce, 2019)<2>. An ‘information gap’ arises as a consequence of information asymmetry. IPs should be better informed than many creditors, having access to management and internal information systems. A ‘competence gap’ arises as a consequence of one party possessing expert knowledge of a situation compared with another. IPs are expected to have higher competence levels than many creditors on insolvency-related matters, being repeat players and professionally qualified. In this context, insolvency reports play an important role in mediating relationships between IPs and creditors, helping to build trust at a time of uncertainty (Joyce, 2019). However, their potential in this regard depends on the quality of information provided. According to SIP 7, insolvency reports should be clear, informative and presented in a manner that is transparent, consistent and useful to creditors.

The quality of information provided by IPs

Considering the above, the purpose of this article is to explore and debate the quality of information provision by IPs. It does so by summarising the indirect findings of a large-scale empirical research project undertaken by academics at Glasgow University<3>.

During the process of data gathering, it became apparent that reporting in insolvency was not straightforward, despite the requirements of relevant SIPs. This presents challenges to the creditor body (the primary recipient of these reports) in terms of their ability to fully understand how the insolvency has been managed and to help explain the monetary amounts paid out as dividends. These issues suggest room for improvement in practitioner reporting if the insolvency reports are to fulfil their important accountability and trust-building roles and comply with relevant SIPs.

Categorisation between fixed and floating charge assets

A key reporting issue identified was the allocation of realisations between different categories of assets and apportionment of costs. SIP 14 sets out best practice for receivers in cases where assets are subject to a floating charge. Despite the specific application to receivership, it is our view that the principles of SIP 14 ought to apply across all corporate insolvency proceedings, a point we return to later in this article.

In a significant number of cases, the format of R&P accounts is such that the categorisation between fixed and floating asset realisations and payments is unclear. Single headings are used, described only as ‘receipts’ or ‘asset realisations’ and ‘payments’ or ‘costs of realisation’, with a corresponding list of what the realisations and costs entail. Reporting in this way does not enable a straightforward and transparent view of how realisations relate to or have been apportioned between the different categories of assets and, furthermore, hinders an assessment of how costs have been allocated between fixed and floating charge asset realisations. Without a clear categorisation between fixed and floating charge assets, readers are often left to form ‘best guess’ allocations of realisations and costs. In the majority of cases, the narrative provided within the administrator’s reports is inadequate to form anything other than a ‘best guess’.

The level of dividends paid to preferential and unsecured creditors is a function of the funds realised from the disposal of assets subject to a floating charge net of the costs of realisation. SIP 14 reminds us that these returns are dependent not only on the correct categorisation of the assets but also on the appropriate allocation of costs incurred in effecting realisations. Data gathering revealed the difficulties in assessing the allocation of the administrator’s fees and expenses between fixed and floating asset realisations. There was usually no explanation of how administrator’s fees had been split and the SIP 9 data was of little help. In fact, SIP 9 data often supported time spent on ‘asset realisations’ (including property) but with no corresponding allocation of fees to fixed asset realisations on the R&P accounts. Greater transparency over allocation of significant cost items, such as office-holders’ fees and legal fees, is of paramount importance, given the knock-on effects on the calculation of a prescribed part.

Where these issues become most apparent is in cases where the secured creditor appears to be ‘overpaid’ from the net proceeds of their fixed charge assets. According to SIP 7, realisations of assets subject to charges should be shown, with the amounts accounted for to the charge holder shown separately as payments. However, in some cases, the net asset realisations less payments to the secured creditor was reported as a ‘negative’ figure. Reading between the lines, a reader must assume that an element of floating charge asset realisations has effectively been applied to the secured creditor’s debt. While the ‘end result’ may be correct, R&P accounts should be presented in a way that ‘makes sense’. In some of these cases, a prescribed part could have theoretically been calculated (or could have been higher) and a (higher) distribution made to unsecured creditors.

Reporting the statutory objective of administration

The Glasgow University project collected information on which statutory objective the administrator was pursuing, the formal exit route and the administration outcome. Preliminary analysis of these variables suggests that corporate rescue is rarely achieved (the majority of cases are asset sales and approximately half of the cases pursue statutory objective c)). This result is not new. Prior studies have revealed similar findings, suggesting that administration tends to be used as means of trying to rescue the ‘business’ rather than the legal entity (Joyce, 2014)<4>. However, what this project does find is that there is insufficient explanation of how the administrator has arrived at the chosen statutory objective. Beyond the restatement of statutory wording, there is rarely any relevant and useful information provided by the office-holder on why they deem the chosen objective to be most appropriate to the case in hand. Furthermore, given the tendency for asset sales, readers are often left wondering why administration was chosen over liquidation.

In several cases, a clear statement of which statutory objective is being pursued was not provided. It was observed that either the chosen statutory objective was not stated, following the ‘boiler plate’ descriptions of the three objectives, or the proposal stated that both objectives b) and c) were being pursued apparently at the same time. The research project, which tracks cases through to completion, also revealed some instances where the stated statutory objective appears inconsistent with the formal exit route or the reported administration outcome.

General reporting issues

A wide range of general reporting issues was observed and a flavour of some of these is briefly discussed here. In cases where the company in administration enters a CVL, a common occurrence was for the ‘closing balance’ on the final set of administrator’s accounts to differ from the ‘opening balance’ (or ‘funds transferred from administrator’) on the first set of liquidator’s accounts. One explanation for this is that the ‘closing date’ and the ‘opening date’ are not necessarily the same. However, in these instances, this effectively leads to a ‘missing period of account’. In cases where the closing date of the administrator’s final R&P is the same as the opening date of the liquidator’s first R&P, no explanation is given for what in some cases are substantial differences of value.

It was also quite common to find a ‘final balance’ on the administrator’s last R&P account. Sometimes this is noted as ‘bank balances’ or ‘VAT control accounts’, but there is no explanation of what this means or what will happen to these funds.

Inconsistencies from one progress report to another or even within the same report were also encountered. The filing of documents with Companies House was also confusing in a small number of cases. For example, the notice of move from administration to dissolution is filed after the notice of end of administration or after the notice of automatic end. A further issue is reporting under English rules for Scotland-registered companies.

Summary and policy recommendations

SIP 7 states that insolvency reports should be produced with the interests of the reader in mind. Earlier in this article, we noted the theoretical possibility of information and competence gaps between IPs and creditors. The above snapshot of reporting clearly highlights the difficulties facing the general body of creditors in understanding how the IP has taken care of, managed and realised the company’s assets. It also reveals the difficulties in understanding what factors have ultimately driven the value of creditor dividends. A concern is a lack of transparency and therefore understandability for creditors. Reports are not consistent across a case and a considerable amount of ‘toing and froing’ is required between reports. Unfortunately, even then, a ‘best guess’ is quite often the end result for the reader. Insolvency reports must be capable of providing a ‘stand-alone’ account of how the office-holder has fulfilled their statutory duties and provide creditors with a clear account of the office-holder’s stewardship activities. Greater care and attention ought to be directed towards the preparation of these reports and accounts. IPs, whose names ultimately appear on these documents, must be satisfied with their accuracy, consistency and understandability before they are sent to creditors and made available to the public.

The ambiguity surrounding the allocation of realisations and costs to fixed and floating charge assets was observed in a significant number of cases. From a creditor’s perspective, this ambiguity and lack of transparency makes it more difficult for them to understand why, in many cases, they are receiving very little or no dividend. The qualitative information contained within the reports should be consistent and helpful in explaining the financial position presented in R&Ps. This article and the wider research project that underpins it therefore support the revision of SIP 14 and the argument that SIP 14 should be best practice across all corporate insolvency proceedings.

Consideration may also be given towards improving the required content and format of the explanation and justification within the administrator’s proposal of the chosen statutory objective. Given the rare occurrence of statutory objective a) administrations, attention may be directed towards enhancing the explanations offered for why administration has been chosen rather than liquidation.

Finally, it may be worth considering whether a reconciliation ought to be provided by the liquidator between the closing balance per the administrator’s accounts and the opening balance per the first set of liquidation accounts.

 

<1>ICAS (2018). https://www.icas.com/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/368461/VISION-STRAW-MAN-4-June-2018-FINAL-PDF.pdf

<2>Joyce, Y. (2019) Building Trust in Crisis Management: A Study of Insolvency Practitioners and the Role of Accounting Information and Processes, Contemporary Accounting Research, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1911-3846.12577

<3>The researchers are Yvonne Joyce (yvonne.joyce@glasgow.ac.uk) and Betty Wu, from Glasgow University, Adam Smith Business School, Accounting and Finance. The final data set comprises the full population of Scottish registered companies entering administration during 2012-2013.

<4>Joyce, Y. (2014) Knowledge mandates in the state-profession dynamic: A study of the British insolvency profession. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 39 (8), pp. 590-614. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0361368214000555?via%3Dihub

 

Yvonne Joyce (BA Hons CA) is senior lecturer in accountancy at Glasgow University

Eileen Maclean (MA Hons MIPA MABRP MBA) is director of Insolvency Support Services Ltd

 

First published in the January 2020 edition of RECOVERY NEWS and reproduced with the permission of R3 and GTI Media.