Skip to content

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

What will happen to patent, trade mark and design registration applications that are currently being processed or which I want to file?

In recognition of the problems that the current situation is causing, the UK IPO classed the 24th March and all subsequent days as “interrupted days” which means that deadlines that fall within this period will be extended until the UK IPO declares that the interrupted days have ceased. As lockdown has begun to be eased, the IPO has now reviewed its position and has confirmed that the “interrupted days” period will come to an end on the 29 July 2020. This means that Thursday 30 July 2020 will be the first normal day of operation, therefore all “interrupted days” deadlines will expire on this day. Similarly, if your deadline falls after the period of interruption ends, this deadline will not be automatically extended.

The IPO is conscious that many businesses may still be in challenging positions when the period of “interrupted days” end. They will endeavour to continue to provide flexibility and support to assist businesses with their applications. They hope to temporarily remove fees for requests for extensions of deadlines, and will give further updates when this fee exemption is in place.

The IPO continues to encourage applicants to meet original deadlines where they are able.  As their offices are closed, the UK IPO is not currently processing paper forms (i.e. hard copy) and faxes. However, they are processing forms which have been submitted electronically, or via email and have made a new email address available for the submission of forms.

Intellectual Property Offices covering other territories have made their own announcements about the extension of deadlines. The EUIPO’s period of extension of deadlines came to an end on the 18th May. However, they have published a Guidance Note and accompanying webinar on the EUIPO website, detailing options for parties who may struggle to meet deadlines and remedies for those who may have missed deadlines.

What actions and measures should be avoided?

The CMA is particularly concerned about certain activities, its guidance highlights:

  • Exchange of commercially sensitive information where this is not necessary in response to the crisis
  • Collaboration which unfairly excludes third parties
  • Abuse of a dominant position (including a dominant position held as a result of the crisis) – particularly to charge excessive prices
  • Seeking to maintain prices or prevent reductions in prices
  • Cooperation going beyond what is necessary to respond to the crisis in the interests of consumers
What records do I need to keep for Flexible Furlough?

You will need to keep a copy of the written agreement for a period of 5 years. If the hours of work change from that which you initially agree, you are likely to need something new in writing to cover each separate arrangement.

You should also keep records of how many hours your employees work and how many hours they are furloughed (i.e. not working). You must keep these records for 6 years, together with a record of the amount claimed, your claim reference number and your calculations.

Who do you have to inform and consult?

The duty is to inform and consult appropriate representatives of the “affected employees”.

Note that the term “affected employees” means those who may be “affected by the proposed dismissals or who may be affected by measures taken in connection with those dismissals”. The term extends beyond those immediately at risk of dismissal to include those affected by measures associated with the redundancies.

“Appropriate representatives” can be:

  • The Trade Union (if recognised)
  • (For any roles not covered by collective recognition) any existing standing body of elected or appointed employee representatives (if already in place)
  • Employee representatives, who are elected specifically for redundancy consultation