Who is the Official Receiver (OR) and what powers do they have?
The Official Receiver is a civil servant in The Insolvency Service and an officer of the court. They will be notified by the court of the bankruptcy or winding-up order. They will then be responsible through staff for administering the initial stage. This stage includes collecting and protecting any assets and investigating the causes of the bankruptcy or winding up. An official Receiver acts as a provisional liquidator after an order of a winding up has been made. Afterwards, they can ask the Secretary of State to appoint an Insolvency Practitioner or call a creditors meeting and ask for one to be appointed. The official receiver also has a statutory duty to look into the behaviour of the directors of an insolvent company. This may lead to the Insolvency Service making an application to the DeBIS to have the directors disqualified in the cases where clear fraud or wrongful trading can be established.
In essence an official receiver is appointed when a company is put into compulsory liquidation or an individual is declared bankrupt.
My company has been wound up. When do I deal with the Official Receiver?
The Official Receivers staff will contact you within 2 working days of receiving the winding up order. You will be requested to attend an interview within 10 days of the order. If the Official Receiver does not require you to attend for an interview, you will be sent a questionnaire to complete. The more organised you are, the more straightforward the process will be.
Once the winding up is complete and if there is no evidence of misconduct, the OR will notify Companies House, who will formally dissolve the company three months after they receive this notice. This means that the company will no longer exist and will be struck off the Companies House list of registered companies. If you don't want it to get to this stage then perhaps you should look at a creditors voluntary liquidation. This brings the affairs of the company to an orderly close without having to involve the court or the official receiver.
The Official Receiver (OR) will also report to creditors which is usually a short report as it is normally small companies that cannot afford to put the company into liquidation via an insolvency practitioner. The fact that Carillion's liquidation was carried out by the OR is extremely unusual.