Sunday 22 October 2017

How to Find Out if a Company Has Gone Bust

Check if a company has gone bust
New online service to check whether a company is still trading

A couple of years ago, we wrote an article on the My Credit Controllers website sharing some tips for people that wanted to find out whether a customer that owed them money had gone into administration, liquidation or receivership.

In the article we described how to use the online search tools at Companies House and the London Gazette to get confirmation about whether a company is still trading or not.  It has become one of our most popular articles - clearly it's a real concern for businesses that are chasing for money when a debtor 'goes quiet' and stops answering the phone or responding to email - are they just avoiding you or are they really in trouble?

Companies House is  the ultimate authority for business information.  It is the archive of record for UK businesses. It has an excellent search tool and you can search for a company name and look to see what trading status for the company is currently held on file.  You can be really certain that if Companies House says a company is 'Dissolved' that it's gone.  Finished.  An ex-company.

The problem with Companies House information is that it can take months to update.  For example financial accounts relied upon by credit rating agencies do not have to be submitted until 9 months after the end of the financial year to which it relates.  The information here is accurate - eventually, but this is of little solace if you've been wasting your time chasing someone for payment when they went into liquidation months before.  You may even have missed your chance to register your debt with the Insolvency Practitioner looking after the case.

This is where the London Gazette comes to the fore.  The Gazette is the journal of record for the UK government and certain statutory notices are required to be published in it.  The Gazette has been digitised and all issues are available online with a search tool.

Included among the notices of government laws coming into force, appointments in the armed forces, and changes of coats of arms are notices of insolvency proceedings for businesses and individuals.  Insolvency practitioners are required to submit notices to the Gazette - for example announcing their appointment and dates of creditors meetings.  Applications to the court for a winding up order against a company and the outcome are also posted.

The Gazette is comprehensive and bang up to date - notices have to be placed within a short time period.  It's drawback is that for a non-specialist the interpretation of all the different insolvency notices can be difficult to understand.  The sheer variety of the topics the Gazette covers can also make searching a challenge.

It is for these reasons we came up with our new online  Company Check tool.  You simply start typing in the name of the company you are interested in and it searches Companies House to give you a pick-list of companies.  Select one of these (or if it's not on the list type out the name in full) and the online databases at Companies House and the Gazette are searched and the results from both analysed to produce a simple summary in plain english.   If you're worried about the trading status of a company - be they supplier or customer, why not give it a try?

Company Check - Online tool to check whether a company has gone bust