This site uses cookies to improve your browsing experience and analyse use of our website. By clicking ‘I accept’ you agree and consent to our use of cookies. You can find out more about our cookies here. Find out more


Chris Tate

The Government announced on 28 March 2020 new insolvency measures to support businesses under pressure as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Below, we explore below the proposed amendments to insolvency law and some of the other practical implications that have arisen due to social distancing guidance. 

Amendment of Insolvency legislation 

The below announcements are for guidance are not yet legislated. Legislation will be introduced in Parliament at the earliest opportunity.
  • Implementation of a short moratorium (before administration) to give companies a breathing space from creditors seeking to enforce their debts while a rescue or restructure is considered, and continue to access supplies and raw materials.
  • Temporary relaxation of wrongful trading provisions retrospectively from 1 March 2020 for three months for company directors so that they can keep their businesses going without the threat of personal liability under s214 of the Insolvency Act. Please note that the rules will still apply in certain cases and therefore we recommend Directors of distressed businesses seek independent insolvency advice to ensure they remain compliant with their fiduciary dutues.

The courts
  • The CE-file is still in operation. Administration appointment documents and winding- up petitions can still be e-filed. The ORs deposit for winding-up petitions can still be paid over the telephone. 
  • Winding –up and Bankruptcy petitions have been adjourned across the country, typically for around 12- 19 weeks. 
  • Hearings are generally being adjourned, held by telephone or video conference or dealt with on paper. The court has issued guidance on remote hearings and a new practice direction.

Statutory declarations
  • Many insolvency documents such as notices of intention to appoint and notices of appointment of administrators require a statutory declaration. 
  • The ICAEW and IPA have confirmed that they regard oaths administered by video link as valid. The High Court in London have already began accepting filings where this protocol has been used.
  • R3 are also in the process of collating a list of solicitors who are willing to swear statutory declarations in person and hope to have a register very shortly. 

  • The use of e-signatures on ordinary contracts is supported by The Law Commission, although certain entities (such as the Land Registry) will not accept e-signatures
  • With regards to HM Land Registry, a solicitor requires wet ink signature on a charge to be able to register it at the Land Registry.
  • There is no precedent as to whether e-signatures can be used on insolvency forms, but if the signatory does not have access to a printer or scanner this may be the only option. 
  • It is desirable to use a third party platform such as DocuSign to obtain e-signatures.