Insolvency is the state of being unable to pay the money owed, by a person or company, on time; those in a state of insolvency are said to be insolvent. There are two forms: cash-flow insolvency and balance-sheet insolvency.
Cash-flow insolvency is when a person or company has enough assets to pay what is owed, but does not have the appropriate form of payment. For example, a person may own a large house and a valuable car, but not have enough liquid assets to pay a debt when it falls due. Cash-flow insolvency can usually be resolved by negotiation. For example, the bill collector may wait until the car is sold and the debtor agrees to pay a penalty.
Balance-sheet insolvency is when a person or company does not have enough assets to pay all of their debts. The person or company might enter bankruptcy, but not necessarily. Once a loss is accepted by all parties, negotiation is often able to resolve the situation without bankruptcy.
A company that is balance-sheet insolvent may still have enough cash to pay its next bill on time. However, most laws will not let the company pay that bill unless it will directly help all their creditors. For example, an insolvent farmer may be allowed to hire people to help harvest the crop, because not harvesting and selling the crop would be even worse for his creditors.
It has been suggested that the speaker or writer should either say technical insolvency or actual insolvency in order to always be clear - where technical insolvency is a synonym for balance sheet insolvency, which means that its liabilities are greater than its assets, and actual insolvency is a synonym for the first definition of insolvency ("Insolvency is the inability of a debtor to pay their debt.").
While technical insolvency is a synonym for balance-sheet insolvency, cash-flow insolvency and actual insolvency are not synonyms. The term "cash-flow insolvent" carries a strong (but perhaps not absolute) connotation that the debtor is balance-sheet solvent, whereas the term "actually insolvent" does not.
Cash-flow insolvency involves a lack of liquidity to pay debts as they fall due.
Balance sheet insolvency involves having negative net assets—where liabilities exceed assets. Insolvency is not a synonym for bankruptcy, which is a determination of insolvency made by a court of law with resulting legal orders intended to resolve the insolvency.
The principal focus of modern insolvency legislation and business debt restructuring practices no longer rests on the liquidation and elimination of insolvent entities but on the remodeling of the financial and organizational structure of debtors experiencing financial distress so as to permit the rehabilitation and continuation of their business. This is known as business turnaround or business recovery. Implementing a business turnaround may take many forms, including keep and restructure, sale as a going concern, or wind-down and exit. In some jurisdictions, it is an offence under the insolvency laws for a corporation to continue in business while insolvent. In others (like the United States with its Chapter 11 provisions), the business may continue under a declared protective arrangement while alternative options to achieve recovery are worked out. Increasingly, legislatures have favored alternatives to winding up companies for good.
Debt restructurings are typically handled by professional insolvency and restructuring practitioners, and are usually less expensive and a preferable alternative to bankruptcy.
Debt restructuring is a process that allows a private or public company - or a sovereign entity - facing cash flow problems and financial distress, to reduce and renegotiate its delinquent debts in order to improve or restore liquidity and rehabilitate so that it can continue its operations.
Although the term "bankrupt" may be used referring to a government, sovereign states do not go bankrupt. This is so because bankruptcy is governed by national law; there exists no entity to take over such a government and distribute assets to creditors. Governments can be insolvent in terms of not having money to pay obligations when they are due. If a government does not meet an obligation, it is in "default". As governments are sovereign entities, persons who hold debt of the government cannot seize the assets of the government to re-pay the debt. The recourse for the creditor is to request to be repaid at least some of what is owed. However, in most cases, debt in default is refinanced by further borrowing or monetized by issuing more currency (which typically results in inflation and may result in hyperinflation).
Insolvency regimes around the world have evolved in very different ways, with laws focusing on different strategies for dealing with the insolvent. The outcome of an insolvent restructuring can be very different depending on the laws of the state in which the insolvency proceeding is run, and in many cases different stakeholders in a company may hold the advantage in different jurisdictions.
In Australia Corporate insolvency is governed by the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth). Companies can be put into Voluntary Administration, Creditors Voluntary Liquidation & Court Liquidation. Secured creditors with registered charges are able to appoint Receivers and Receivers & Managers depending on their charge.
In Canada, bankruptcy and insolvency are generally regulated by the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. An alternative regime is available to larger companies (or affiliated groups) under the Companies' Creditors Arrangements Act, where total debts exceed $5 million.
In India, bankruptcy and insolvency are generally regulated by the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016.The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) is the regulator for overseeing insolvency proceedings and entities like Insolvency Professional Agencies (IPA), Insolvency Professionals (IP) and Information Utilities (IU) in India.
In South Africa, owners of businesses that had at any stage traded insolvently (i.e. that had a balance-sheet insolvency) become personally liable for the business' debts. Trading insolvently is often regarded as normal business practice in South Africa, as long as the business is able to fulfill its debt obligations when they fall due.
Under Swiss law, insolvency or foreclosure may lead to the seizure and auctioning off of assets (generally in the case of private individuals) or to bankruptcy proceedings (generally in the case of registered commercial entities).
Turkish insolvency law is regulated by Enforcement And Bankruptcy Law (Code No: 2004, Original Name: İcra ve İflas Kanunu). Main concept of the insolvency law is very similar to Swiss and German insolvency laws. Enforcement methods are realizing pledged property, seizure of assets and bankruptcy.
In the United Kingdom, the term bankruptcy is reserved for individuals. Insolvency is defined both in terms of cash flow and in terms of balance sheet in the UK Insolvency Act 1986, Section 123, which reads in part:
123.-(1) A company is deemed unable to pay its debts ---
(a) if a creditor (by assignment or otherwise) to whom the company is indebted in a sum exceeding £750 then due has served on the company, by leaving it at the company's registered office, a written demand (in the prescribed form) requiring the company to pay the sum so due and the company has for 3 weeks thereafter neglected to pay the sum or to secure or compound for it to the reasonable satisfaction of the creditor,... (2) A company is also deemed unable to pay its debts if it is proved to the satisfaction of the court that the value of the company's assets is less than the amount of its liabilities, taking into account its contingent and prospective liabilities...— Insolvency Act 1986, Section 123 (Part IV, Chapter VI), p. 68.
A company which is insolvent may be put into liquidation (sometimes referred to as winding-up). The directors and shareholders can instigate the liquidation process without court involvement by a shareholder resolution and the appointment of a licensed Insolvency Practitioner as liquidator. However, the liquidation will not be effective legally without the convening of a meeting of creditors who have the opportunity to appoint a liquidator of their own choice. This process is known as creditors voluntary liquidation (CVL), as opposed to members voluntary liquidation (MVL) which is for solvent companies. Alternatively, a creditor can petition the court for a winding-up order which, if granted, will place the company into what is called compulsory liquidation or winding up by the court. The liquidator realises the assets of the company and distributes funds realised to creditors according to their priorities, after the deduction of costs. In the case of Sole Trader Insolvency, the insolvency options include Individual Voluntary Arrangements and Bankruptcy.
It can be a civil and even a criminal offence for directors to allow a company to continue to trade whilst insolvent. However, two new insolvency procedures were introduced by the Insolvency Act 1986 which aim to provide time for the rescue of a company or, at least, its business. These are Administration and Company Voluntary Arrangement:
One particular type of Administration that is becoming more common is called pre pack administration (more information under administration (law)). In this process, immediately after appointment the administrator completes a pre-arranged sale of the company's business, often to its directors or owners. The process can be seen as controversial because the creditors do not have the opportunity to vote against the sale. The rationale behind the device is that the swift sale of the business may be necessary or of benefit to enable a best price to be achieved. If the sale was delayed, creditors would ultimately lose out because the price obtainable for the assets would be reduced.
In addition to the above-mentioned corporate insolvency procedures, a creditor holding security over an asset of the company may have the power to appoint an insolvency practitioner as administrative receiver or, in Scotland, receiver. The process, latterly known as administrative receivership or, in Scotland, receivership, has existed for many years and has often resulted in a successful rescue of a company's business via a sale, but not of the company itself. Since the introduction of the collective insolvency procedure of Administration in 1986, the legislators have decided to set a shelf life on the administrative receivership or, in Scotland, receivership procedure and it is no longer possible to appoint an administrative receiver or, in Scotland, receiver under security created after 15 September 2003.
In individual cases the bankruptcy estate is dealt by an official receiver, appointed by the court. In some cases the file is transferred to RTLU (OR Regional Trustee Liquidator Unit) that will assess your assets and income to see if you can contribute towards paying costs of bankruptcy or even discharge part of your debts.
Under the Uniform Commercial Code, a person is considered to be insolvent when the party has ceased to pay its debts in the ordinary course of business, or cannot pay its debts as they become due, or is insolvent within the meaning of the Bankruptcy Code. This is important because certain rights under the code may be invoked against an insolvent party which are otherwise unavailable.
The United States has established insolvency regimes which aim to protect the insolvent individual or company from the creditors, and balance their respective interests. For example, see Chapter 11, Title 11, United States Code. However, some state courts have begun to find individual corporate officers and directors liable for driving a company deeper into bankruptcy, under the legal theory of "deepening insolvency".
In determining whether a gift or a payment to a creditor is an unlawful preference, the date of the insolvency, rather than the date of the legally declared bankruptcy, will usually be the primary consideration.
A referendum on a federal law on insolvency and debt was held in Switzerland on 17 November 1889. The new law was approved by 52.9% of voters.Administration (law)
As a legal concept, administration is a procedure under the insolvency laws of a number of common law jurisdictions, similar to bankruptcy in the United States. It functions as a rescue mechanism for insolvent entities and allows them to carry on running their business. The process – in the United Kingdom colloquially called "under administration" – is an alternative to liquidation, or may be a precursor to it. Administration is commenced by an administration order. A company in administrative receivership is operated by an administrator (as interim chief executive with custodial responsibility for the company's assets and obligations) on behalf of its creditors. The administrator may recapitalize the business, sell the business to new owners, or demerge it into elements that can be sold and close the remainder. Most countries distinguish between voluntary (board-decided) and involuntary (court-decided) receivership. In voluntary administrative receivership, the administrator is appointed by the company directors. In involuntary administrative receivership, the administrator is appointed by a judicial court. The legal terms for these processes vary from country to country, and the processes may overlap.Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy is a legal status of a person or other entity who cannot repay debts to creditors. In most jurisdictions, bankruptcy is imposed by a court order, often initiated by the debtor.
Bankruptcy is not the only legal status that an insolvent person may have, and the term bankruptcy is therefore not a synonym for insolvency. In some countries, such as the United Kingdom, bankruptcy is limited to individuals; other forms of insolvency proceedings (such as liquidation and administration) are applied to companies. In the United States, bankruptcy is applied more broadly to formal insolvency proceedings. In France, the cognate French word banqueroute is used solely for cases of fraudulent bankruptcy, whereas the term faillite (cognate of "failure") is used for bankruptcy in accordance with the law.Bankruptcy in China
The Enterprise Bankruptcy Law of the People's Republic of China (trial Implementation) was first passed in 1986. On 1 June 2007, the new Enterprise Bankruptcy Law of the PRC came into force. It contains 136 articles, almost 100 more than the 1986 law it replaced, and consequently it is thought to be more complete legally.
The Enterprise Bankruptcy Law of the PRC was adopted in August 27, 2006, and became effective since June 1, 2007.Creditor
A creditor is a party (e.g., person, organization, company, or government) that has a claim on the services of a second party. It is a person or institution to whom money is owed. The first party, in general, has provided some property or service to the second party under the assumption (usually enforced by contract) that the second party will return an equivalent property and service. The second party is frequently called a debtor or borrower. The first party is called the creditor, which is the lender of property, service, or money.
Creditors can be broadly divided into two categories: secured and unsecured. A secured creditor has a security or charge, which is some or all of the company’s assets, to secure the debt owed to him. This could be, for example, a mortgage, where the property represents the security. An unsecured creditor does not have a charge over the company’s assets.The term creditor is frequently used in the financial world, especially in reference to short-term loans, long-term bonds, and mortgage loans. In law, a person who has a money judgment entered in their favor by a court is called a judgment creditor.
The term creditor derives from the notion of credit. Also, in modern America, credit refers to a rating which indicates the likelihood a borrower will pay back his or her loan. In earlier times, credit also referred to reputation or trustworthiness.Debt consolidation
Debt consolidation is a form of debt refinancing that entails taking out one loan to pay off many others. This commonly refers to a personal finance process of individuals addressing high consumer debt but occasionally refers to a country's fiscal approach to corporate debt or Government debt. The process can secure a lower overall interest rate to the entire debt load and provide the convenience of servicing only one loan.Default (finance)
In finance, default is failure to meet the legal obligations (or conditions) of a loan, for example when a home buyer fails to make a mortgage payment, or when a corporation or government fails to pay a bond which has reached maturity. A national or sovereign default is the failure or refusal of a government to repay its national debt.
The biggest private default in history is Lehman Brothers, with over $600 billion when it filed for bankruptcy in 2008. The biggest sovereign default is Greece, with $138 billion in March 2012.Dissolution (law)
In law, dissolution has multiple meanings.
Dissolution is the last stage of liquidation, the process by which a company (or part of a company) is brought to an end, and the assets and property of the company redistributed.
Dissolution of a partnership is the first of two stages in the termination of a partnership. "Winding up" is the second stage.Dissolution may also refer to the termination of a contract or other legal relationship; for example, a divorce is the dissolution of a marriage.
Dissolution is also the term for the legal process by which an adoption is reversed. While this applies to the vast majority of adoptions which are terminated, they are more commonly referred to as disruptions, even though that term technically applies only to those that are not legally complete at the time of termination.
In international law, dissolution (Latin: dismembratio) is when a state has broken up into several entities, and no longer has power over those entities, as it used to have previously. An example of this is the case of the former USSR dissolving into different republics.Insolvency Act 1986
The Insolvency Act 1986 (c 45) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that provides the legal platform for all matters relating to personal and corporate insolvency in the UK.Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016
The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC) is the bankruptcy law of India which seeks to consolidate the existing framework by creating a single law for insolvency and bankruptcy. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2015 was introduced in Lok Sabha in December 2015. It was passed by Lok Sabha on 5 May 2016. The Code received the assent of the President of India on 28 May 2016. Certain provisions of the Act have come into force from 5 August and 19 August 2016. The bankruptcy code is a one stop solution for resolving insolvencies which at present is a long process and does not offer an economically viable arrangement. A strong insolvency framework where the cost and the time incurred is minimised in attaining liquidation has been long overdue in India. The code will be able to protect the interests of small investors and make the process of doing business a less cumbersome process.Insolvency law of Canada
The Parliament of Canada has exclusive jurisdiction to regulate matters relating to bankruptcy and insolvency, by virtue of s.91 of the Constitution Act, 1867. It has passed the following statutes as a result:
The Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act ("BIA")
The Companies' Creditors Arrangements Act ("CCAA")
The Farm Debt Mediation Act
The Wage Earner Protection Program Act
The Winding-Up and Restructuring Act (which essentially applies only to financial institutions under federal jurisdiction) In applying these statutes, provincial law has important consequences. Section 67(1)(b) of the BIA provides that "any property that as against the bankrupt is exempt from execution or seizure under any laws applicable in the province within which the property is situated and within which the bankrupt resides".
Provincial legislation under the property and civil rights power of the Constitution Act, 1867 regulates the resolution of financial difficulties that occur before the onset of insolvency. Notable legislation is in effect for governing:
creation of security interests (with notable caveats)
bulk sales (in Ontario only)
relief of creditors
seizure of assets
assignments and preferencesInsolvency practitioner
In the United Kingdom, only an authorised or licensed Insolvency Practitioner (usually abbreviated to IP) may be appointed in relation to formal insolvency procedures.
Quite often IPs have an accountancy background. A few active practitioners are lawyers, but it is not necessary to be qualified as either, as since 1986 there has been a direct entry route to the profession.Liquidation
Liquidation is the process in law and business by which a company is brought to an end in the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland and United States. The assets and property of the company are redistributed. Liquidation is also sometimes referred to as winding-up or dissolution, although dissolution technically refers to the last stage of liquidation. The process of liquidation also arises when customs, an authority or agency in a country responsible for collecting and safeguarding customs duties, determines the final computation or ascertainment of the duties or drawback accruing on an entry.Liquidation may either be compulsory (sometimes referred to as a creditors' liquidation following bankruptcy, which may result in the court creating a "liquidation trust") or voluntary (sometimes referred to as a shareholders' liquidation, although some voluntary liquidations are controlled by the creditors).
The term "liquidation" is also sometimes used informally to describe a company seeking to divest of some of its assets. For instance, a retail chain may wish to close some of its stores. For efficiency's sake, it will often sell these at a discount to a company specializing in real estate liquidation instead of becoming involved in an area it may lack sufficient expertise in to operate with maximum profitability.Liquidator (law)
In law, a liquidator is the officer appointed when a company goes into winding-up or liquidation who has responsibility for collecting in all of the assets under such circumstances of the company and settling all claims against the company before putting the company into dissolution.Preference
A preference is a technical term in psychology, economics and philosophy usually used in relation to choosing between alternatives; someone has a preference for A over B if they would choose A rather than B.
Preference can also be used in insolvency terms.Receivership
In law, receivership is a situation in which an institution or enterprise is held by a receiver—a person "placed in the custodial responsibility for the property of others, including tangible and intangible assets and rights"—especially in cases where a company cannot meet financial obligations or enters bankruptcy. The receivership remedy is an equitable remedy that emerged in the English chancery courts, where receivers were appointed to protect real property. Receiverships are also a remedy of last resort in litigation involving the conduct of executive agencies that fail to comply with constitutional or statutory obligations to populations that rely on those agencies for their basic human rights.Receiverships can be broadly divided into two types:
Those related to insolvency or enforcement of a security interest.
Those where either
A person is Incapable of managing their affairs and so the court appoints a receiver to manage the property on their behalf—for example a receiver appointed by a Court of Protection under mental health legislation (in some jurisdictions, called conservatorship).
The Government seizes control of property due to breaches of law or regulation.Receiverships relating to insolvency are subdivided into two further categories: administrative receivership, where the receiver is appointed wide management powers over all or most of the property of a business, and other receiverships (sometimes misleadingly called fixed charge receiverships) where the receiver has limited control over specific property, with no broader powers beyond managing or selling the individual asset.
Receivers are appointed in different ways:
Government regulator appointed
Court-appointedThe receiver's powers "flow from the document(s) underlying his appointment"—i.e., a statute, financing agreement, or court order.SPV GmbH
SPV GmbH (also known as Schallplatten Produktion und Vertrieb GmbH) is an independent German record label.
Founded on 1 January 1984, it has slowly grown to be one of the largest independent distributors and record labels worldwide.It also has several sub-labels that it produces and distributes, including the heavy metal labels Long Branch Records, Steamhammer, Synthetic Symphony, Oblivion, SPV Recordings/SPV America and Audiopharm.Trustee in bankruptcy
A trustee in bankruptcy is an entity, often an individual, in charge of administering a bankruptcy estate.United Kingdom insolvency law
United Kingdom insolvency law regulates companies in the United Kingdom which are unable to repay their debts. While UK bankruptcy law concerns the rules for natural persons, the term insolvency is generally used for companies formed under the Companies Act 2006. "Insolvency" means being unable to pay debts. Since the Cork Report of 1982, the modern policy of UK insolvency law has been to attempt to rescue a company that is in difficulty, to minimise losses and fairly distribute the burdens between the community, employees, creditors and other stakeholders that result from enterprise failure. If a company cannot be saved it is "liquidated", so that the assets are sold off to repay creditors according to their priority. The main sources of law include the Insolvency Act 1986, the Insolvency Rules 1986 (replaced in England and Wales from 6th April 2017 by the Insolvency Rules (England and Wales) 2016 - see below)), the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986, the Employment Rights Act 1996 Part XII, the Insolvency Regulation (EC) 1346/2000 and case law. Numerous other Acts, statutory instruments and cases relating to labour, banking, property and conflicts of laws also shape the subject.
UK law grants the greatest protection to banks or other parties that contract for a security interest. If a security is "fixed" over a particular asset, this gives priority in being paid over other creditors, including employees and most small businesses that have traded with the insolvent company. A "floating charge", which is not permitted in many countries and remains controversial in the UK, can sweep up all future assets, but the holder is subordinated in statute to a limited sum of employees' wage and pension claims, and around 20 per cent for other unsecured creditors. Security interests have to be publicly registered, on the theory that transparency will assist commercial creditors in understanding a company's financial position before they contract. However the law still allows "title retention clauses" and "Quistclose trusts" which function just like security but do not have to be registered. Secured creditors generally dominate insolvency procedures, because a floating charge holder can select the administrator of its choice. In law, administrators are meant to prioritise rescuing a company, and owe a duty to all creditors. In practice, these duties are seldom found to be broken, and the most typical outcome is that an insolvent company's assets are sold as a going concern to a new buyer, which can often include the former management: but free from creditors' claims and potentially with many job losses. Other possible procedures include a "voluntary arrangement", if three quarters of creditors can voluntarily agree to give the company a debt haircut, receivership in a limited number of enterprise types, and liquidation where a company's assets are finally sold off. Enforcement rates by insolvency practitioners remain low, but in theory an administrator or liquidator can apply for transactions at an undervalue to be cancelled, or unfair preferences to some creditors be revoked. Directors can be sued for breach of duty, or disqualified, including negligently trading a company when it could not have avoided insolvency. Insolvency law's basic principles still remain significantly contested, and its rules show a compromise of conflicting views.