Insolvency Investigations

Our regulatory team are experienced in advising businesses about investigations by the Insolvency Service criminal enforcement team and in assisting you to minimise the commercial consequences to your business.

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The department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS) Insolvency Service criminal enforcement team initiates an investigation when they have reasonable grounds to suspect fraud, serious misconduct or a material irregularity in a company’s affairs

The criminal enforcement team investigates complaints from the police, regulators, Trading Standards and members of the public, and forms a view as to whether any action is required to protect the public from the company in question. Using powers given to it under section 447 Companies Act 1985 to mount a civil investigation into a company, the criminal enforcement team is able to request the provision of specific documents and explanations regarding the documentation. This is a compulsory requirement and failure to co-operate can lead to contempt proceedings in Court.

Investigations are confidential and conducted in a way that shouldn’t pose a risk to the trading of your business. However, third parties, such as suppliers, customers and employees can be required to provide documentation. Our regulatory lawyers have the necessary experience to work with you to manage the impact of the Insolvency Service’s investigation.

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What powers does the Insolvency Service criminal enforcement team have?

The criminal enforcement team’s stated goal is regarding “insolvency related fraud and associated corporate misconduct, working to deter fraud in companies and by bankrupts by investigating and prosecuting breaches of Insolvency and Company Law.” They can direct your company to produce specified documentation and information which an appointed investigator can copy. If your company refuses to co-operate, the investigator can obtain a search warrant and attend your premises with the police to search and seize company documentation. In less serious cases they can take informal action such as issuing a warning to a company director and asking them to rectify any faults found.

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In more serious cases they can:

– Refer the Company Directors to The Insolvency Service for Directors Disqualification proceedings
– Refer the company to the police or BEIS’s Prosecution Lawyers for a criminal investigation
– Apply to the Court to close down a company on the basis that this is in the public interest
– Refer information to other regulators to consider disciplinary action against their members, such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants, or the Solicitors Regulation Authority

A failure to co-operate with an investigator can lead to an allegation of contempt of court, which can lead to a term of imprisonment or a fine.

What we do

Our experienced lawyers can guide you through an investigation by the Companies Investigations Branch. By identifying what information has been requested we can work with you to assess what the real issues are and assist you to minimise any potential risks to you and your business.

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Our multidisciplinary team is made up of specialists in a wide range of services, which means you'll always be represented by an expert in your area.

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Get in touch to arrange a no-obligation, fully confidential call to discuss your case and work out if you want to continue.

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Speak to solicitors in one of our offices throughout England and Wales, or arrange calls and remote meetings.

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