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What are the key questions to ask ourselves as a business?

Some examples of the key questions to ask include:

  • Is there still a viable underlying business that is likely to continue beyond the current crisis?
  • What does the revised short to medium cash flow look like and will the company continue to be able to pay its liabilities?
  • Does the company have the support of all of its stakeholders – lenders, shareholders, customers, suppliers and banks – even though the business might be in breach of its own obligations?
  • What measures could (and should) the board put in place to protect creditors, including making sure that exposure to creditors (both collectively and individually) is not increased, assets are not sold at less than value and no creditor is treated more favourably than another?
  • Is there still a reasonable prospect of the business avoiding liquidation or administration?

The key question is always whether accepting the money is in the best interests of creditors as a whole bearing in mind that accepting Government support and continuing to trade might increase the company’s overall liabilities. Directors should be mindful that if the business fails, their decisions during this critical time may be scrutinised and it is therefore important that directors have up-to-date financial information and projections to form the basis of any decisions, take stock, get the right advice and document the decisions that are taken.

Related FAQs

Can agency workers be furloughed?

Yes, if they are paid via PAYE. This includes agency workers engaged under umbrella companies.

The furlough should be agreed between the agency (the employer) and the worker and documented in accordance with the guidance. It is recommended that the decision to furlough is discussed with end user clients. Just like other employees, agency workers cannot perform work through or on behalf of the agency while furloughed. This includes work for the client.

For agency staff working under umbrella companies, it is for the umbrella company and the agency worker to agree on furloughing the worker.

How do I apply for an extension to Companies House?

The application is made via the Companies House website, and only takes a few minutes to complete. Companies House have indicated that the extension is “automatic and immediate” and will be for three months.

Having said that the extension is “automatic”, their website also says that Companies that have already extended their filing deadline, or shortened their accounting reference period, may not be eligible for an extension.

If an extension is granted, it will not affect the due date for filing accounts in future years – so the deadline will revert to the usual date for the next accounting period.

Does the introduction of CLBILS assist private equity-backed businesses?

Under CBILS, for the purposes of calculating the applicant’s annual turnover, approved lenders have been aggregating turnover across the whole of the private equity investor’s portfolio meaning they failed to qualify for the scheme as they were deemed to exceed the £45 million threshold.

For private equity-backed businesses, the removal of the upper limit on annual turnover criteria for CLBILS seemingly avoids the issue of turnover aggregation across investment portfolios seen with the CBILS, potentially enabling more private equity sponsor portfolio companies to be able to access the CLBILS funding.

How may proceedings change after Covid-19?

During the COVID-19 global pandemic, trials and hearings have been mostly conducted over Skype for Business and various other online platforms. Looking forward to the future, what we have experienced during the lock-down may continue and we believe will make litigation a more streamlined, user friendly experience for litigants.

One example of a regime which has been introduced is hybrid trials for lower value claims. Hybrid trials allow for parties and their witnesses to be linked into the court room by video link, whilst the judge and advocates are present in court. This makes it easier and frees up more time for witnesses, which would otherwise be spent in travel and waiting time, especially for those with other commitments.

With hybrid trials, clients still get a full legal experience and the judge will still apply normal legal principles during the trial. The procedure for the case is the same, both leading up to the trial or hearing and during the case itself; except without the need to physically attend court. It may also mean that there will be less of a backlog arising from the current crisis with cases continuing to be heard, allowing for matters to be listed earlier and a quicker outcome for the parties involved.

The shift to the use of online platforms may prove more practical for all those involved in legal matters. Interim hearings can be heard remotely resulting in a time and cost saving for litigants. Even for the final hearing only the legal representatives need to attend court – again resulting in time and cost savings for all concerned.

Which properties should I prioritise?

Some organisations are prioritising properties, known to be higher risk, such as properties with open flues, or near to the certificate expiry date.

Vulnerable staff and tenants need protection, safe working practices need to be established, and communicated. Organisations should bring forward servicing for people known to be vulnerable – but bearing in mind the guidance as to preserving the annual test date.