Our research has shown that the number of winding up petitions advertised in August 2011 was 541. This is up 8% on the total of 501 in August 2010. The majority of winding up petitions are advertised "not less than 7 days" before the hearing" which can be a month or so since the petition was served. A creditor can advertise the petition 7 days after its issue if they want to but that may be counter productive. The most common petitioner is HMRC for unpaid tax. They will have sent a 7 day warning letter that they intend to issue a petition.
If the petition is heard in court then the company can be wound up or, to use another term, put into compulsory liquidation. The Official Receiver (OR) appointed by the court has a statutory duty to investigate the behaviour of the directors.
So don't let it get to that stage! If you have been served a winding up petition then you must act because if the petition is advertised then the bank will freeze the account to prevent "disposition of the assets" They freeze it because any transaction after the petition can be reversed by the court. In order to unfreeze the account you will need a validation order which is expensive and takes time as documents will need to be put before the court explaining why you should be allowed access to your account.
A CVA draft can be presented to the court to stop the petition, but again this can take time. If time runs out administration can be the end result with higher costs and the damaging effect this can have on reputation and goodwill.