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Understanding the 4 Stages of Liquidation – A Guide for Business Directors

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Posted in: Liquidation 11 Aug 23

There are normally between 1,500 and 2,000 company voluntary liquidations each month, and it is a sad reality that many directors will find themselves needing to do this at some point.  To most this will be an unknown process and the task of taking a company into liquidation can seem overwhelming, especially if directors are not familiar with the liquidation process. In this blog post, we’ll guide you through the four stages of liquidation, so you can have a better understanding of what to expect and feel confident in your decision to appoint a liquidator.

Stage 1 – Appointing a Liquidator

The first stage of liquidation is arguably the most critical – appointing a liquidator. As a director, you are able to take your company into voluntary liquidation by calling a meeting of shareholders to pass the necessary resolutions.  Creditors can then be asked to ratify your choice of liquidator and agree to the fees being charged in the liquidation.  Once you’ve appointed a liquidator, they will take over the management of your company, sell off any assets, and distribute the proceeds to creditors. It’s important to choose your liquidator carefully, as they will be responsible for ensuring your company’s affairs are conducted in a fair and transparent manner.

Stage 2 – Collecting and Valuing Assets

Once the liquidator has been appointed, they will start the process of collecting and valuing your company’s assets. This includes physical assets like property, vehicles, and inventory, as well as intellectual property like trademarks and patents. The liquidator will also start the process of contacting creditors and notifying them of the liquidation. They may also choose to investigate the conduct of the directors leading up to the liquidation to determine if any wrongful trading or misconduct took place.

Stage 3 – Settling Outstanding Debts

In stage three, the liquidator will use the proceeds of the sale of your company’s assets to settle outstanding debts. This includes paying off preferential creditors, such as HMRC and employees, secured creditors like banks and other financial institutions, as well as unsecured creditors like suppliers.  Any remaining funds after creditors paid in full would be distributed to shareholders.

Stage 4 – Closing the Company

Once all outstanding debts have been settled and assets have been distributed, the liquidator will begin the process of closing the company. This includes filing all necessary documents with Companies House, notifying HMRC, and deregistering your company for VAT and corporation tax. After the final closure of the company, the liquidator will submit their final report to Companies House.  The company will then be automatically dissolved 3 months later.


Appointing a liquidator can be a stressful and emotional time for any business director, but understanding the four stages of liquidation can help alleviate some of the stress and confusion. By appointing a trustworthy and qualified liquidator, collecting and valuing assets, settling outstanding debts, and closing the company correctly, you can rest assured that your company’s liquidation process runs as smoothly and successfully as possible. If you have any questions or need more guidance on liquidation, it’s always best to speak with a professional who can help you navigate the process.

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Robin Tarling

Advice you can trust.