Business Restructuring & Insolvency Services

Business Restructuring and Insolvency

If your business is facing financial difficulties and you are concerned about its future, you may want to consider seeking business debt advice. Our team has been working in corporate restructuring, debt advisory and insolvency for more than 25 years and can help you resolve your financial business problems, whatever they might be.

We offer a free initial consultation on your options and guidance on your chosen route regardless if it is an exit or business rescue strategy. Our insolvency experts have been working in different industries including technology, hotel and leisure, retail, bars and restaurants, energy, renewables, and public sector, helping to restructure companies and minimise costs to achieve stability and growth. We understand that each industry comes with its own unique challenges and needs a tailored strategy to achieve your desired goals. We can help Company Directors, Finance Directors, Sole Traders, Partnerships, small and large businesses as well as accountants. 

Our teams are headed by partners Eileen Blackburn, Brian Milne and Director Linda Barr, who are assisted by experienced senior teams in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hamilton and Stirling. No matter how serious your business debt might seem we can assure you that we will find the best solution available.

Further information about the ways we can help are outlined below, or contact us here to arrange to speak to one of our business restructuring experts.

How we can help you

Dealing with business debts can be challenging, and it can be difficult to know what steps to take next. Some company owners want to rescue their business while others are looking for exit strategies. Regardless which route you are looking to take, our team of business restructuring and insolvency experts can help you to achieve it.

At French Duncan we are one of Scotland's leading corporate debt and business rescue practices specialising in advising small, medium and large businesses which are facing financial or strategic challenges at various stages of their business lifecycle. All our debt advisers are dedicated to giving high quality debt and restructuring advice to businesses of all sizes right across Scotland.

Our team has been working in business restructuring, advisory and insolvency for more than 25 years and work with a range of stakeholders, including directors, lenders, private investors and creditors, to ensure that each case is considered on its own unique circumstances, and to advise on, and implement, the most appropriate solution.

Our experts have successfully worked on a number of recent high profile administrations including (need some examples).

If your business is under financial stress and you are concerned about its future, you may want to consider seeking business debt advice. No matter how serious your business debt might seem we can assure you that there will be a solution available. We offer a free initial consultation which allows you to learn about the best way forward.

If your business is underperforming, distressed or suffering a cash crisis, we can provide a tailored business review for stakeholders or lenders to the business. This service clarifies the immediate and medium term issues facing the business and will provide a clear evaluation of the options available and suitable recommendations.

When a business is suffering from financial underperformance, any solution is likely to involve operational restructuring. Through our years of experience of dealing with distressed and underperforming businesses, we can assist you in identifying the core business issues and work with you to develop a restructuring plan which is viable and achievable.

Even the most profitable of businesses can suffer from sporadic, short term cash flow issues. We have experience of helping businesses identify the root cause of cash shortages and can work with management to help maximise working capital and cash flow.

From time to time genuinely viable businesses are forced by creditor pressure into an insolvency process which could easily have been avoided. We can help if you are in arrears to HMRC for VAT, corporation tax or PAYE/NIC, by proposing realistic time to pay arrangements to HMRC since we are aware of HMRC’s normal criteria and therefore the likelihood of acceptance of such proposals.

A Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) is a legally binding agreement between the company and its creditors to repay those creditors, either in part or in full, over a period of time. The procedure is typically used where there is a profitable core business which has become overburdened by historic debt, such as PAYE, VAT, rent or rates arrears. CVA procedures are increasingly used to help restructure businesses which have a viable future, especially if there is the prospect of an initial cash injection.

Administration is a formal insolvency process which can be used to save a viable business. Administration provides a moratorium against creditor action in order to allow the Administrator to trade the business whilst either rationalising (to allow the business to trade out of Administration) or whilst looking for a purchaser for the business.

Members Voluntary Liquidation, or Solvent Liquidation, is a process which can be used to close a company efficiently for tax purposes. It is utilised to return surplus assets or cash back to the shareholders. We have a wealth of experience with this process and our team will work closely with our tax experts to ensure that the process is conducted in the most tax efficient manner. S110 Reconstruction is a tax efficient way to deal with a number of businesses within one limited company being either closed or disposed of with no chargeable gain.

Unfortunately businesses sometimes fail. Once the directors realise that their company is in an irretrievably insolvent position, or is unable to pay its debts as they fall due, they have a responsibility to ensure that they seek appropriate advice and, if appropriate, place the company into liquidation. This can be done either by CVL or WUC at the instance of the Company. The liquidator will then realise the assets of the company and distribute any surplus cash proceeds to the creditors according to their appropriate rankings.

If you are looking for personal insolvency advice in Scotland contact our team for free and confidential advice. We specialise in Trust Deed and Sequestration arrangements. FD Debt Solutions is the consumer debt arm of French Duncan Chartered Accountants, for further information and assistance with your debt issues please go to our dedicated consumer debt website

Debt advice for limited companies in Scotland
Dealing with cash flow issues in your business can be challenging and if you don’t get it right then dealing with creditors can take up valuable time that could be better utilised trying to win contracts, working on business improvement and increasing profitability. If you are a director of a limited company or a member of an LLP that is facing financial difficulties, it is likely that you will be feeling the pressure of having to deal with the debts. Often you will feel ill prepared and that you lack the necessary skills to manage corporate financial problems and it can be difficult to know which route to take to ensure your business can continue to trade.

French Duncan LLP is one of the leading business recovery and restructuring firms in Scotland, and can offer you free initial advice on cash flow issues, dealing with corporate debt, unpaid invoices and debts to HM Revenue and Customs. Our team can help you identify the core business issues and work with you to develop a sustainable restructuring plan tailored to you and your company’s needs.

What are the most common business debts?
By being a director and owning a business trading as a limited company, you agree to work in the best interests of the company, the employees, and the creditors of the company. This is known as a duty of care or fiduciary duty. Business debts can build up due to a variety of reasons; periods of difficult trading, rapid business expansion, unseasonable weather, loss of a major contract or supplier and changes in legislation can all affect trading and lead to debts building up. In some cases, the initial outlays associated with merely setting up the business can mean that the business is always on the back foot financially and lacks the investment required to become profitable.

One of the most common business debts which tends to build up is to HMRC. As a director, you are not personally liable for business debts, but if the business does not pay its debts, the creditors can take court action and the company assets could be at risk. No matter the reason for the debt, the directors of the business need to explore all avenues to deal with financial issues.

What are the options for clearing business debts?
Directors have a number of options available to them when faced with mounting business debts. Firstly, they could make an informal arrangement with creditors, this may involve negotiating a payment plan with creditors that is backed up with a statement of affairs of the business debts as well as forecasts. The business's credit rating is not normally affected by an informal arrangement with trade creditors as long as agreed payments are met. Creditors do not have to accept the proposed informal arrangements, however if they are being offered either the whole amount they are due over an extended period or a large portion of what they are due over a shorter period they may be willing to accept the proposal rather than deal with a company in an insolvency process.

Another option is a 'company voluntary arrangement' or a CVA as it is more commonly known. This is an insolvency process, whereby the company puts a proposal to its creditors, which allows it to deal with its debts. Very often a proportion of the debt is written off, and the rest is paid over a period of time, usually between 3 - 5 years. 75% of the value of the creditors must agree to this arrangement. In recent times a number of high profile CVAs have involved the companies obtaining the agreement of the landlords as the largest creditors. HMRC is often the largest creditor and will consider supporting this particular type of insolvency process. Key to success is in the drafting of the proposal and gaining the trust of the creditors who will want to be sure that they are receiving the best possible deal. Other formal insolvency options include Administration. The main purposes of Administration are either to try to rescue the business as a going concern by finding a purchaser for the business or parts of the business, or to ensure a better return to creditors than liquidation alone would likely return.

The last formal insolvency option is liquidation and this usually occurs when a company can no longer trade and where a formal, orderly wind down of the business is required to try to maximise asset values to ensure the best return to creditors.

Are directors personally liable for company debts?
Directors can find themselves liable for their debts of the company in certain circumstances, namely:

• where they have signed personal guarantees to suppliers, banks or landlords
• if they have used company money for purposes other than in relation to the running of the company, 
• where they have paid dividends where there were no profits or distributable funds, 
• where credit has been arranged when they knew or ought to have known that the business had no real prospect of repaying the debts
• where they have continued to trade to the detriment of creditors when there was no reasonable prospect of being able to trade out of the debt position

If you are looking for corporate restructuring and debt advice, need help negotiating with creditors or are looking for insolvency help then please contact our team for free initial advice. Our offices are located in central Scotland including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Hamilton, Stirling and Dumbarton.

The French Duncan restructuring and debt advisory team can help you with all of the following services:

  • Fraud and Forensic Accounting
  • Working Capital Improvement
  • Independent Business Reviews (IBR)
  • HMRC Business Debt and Time to Pay arrangements
  • Business Restructuring
  • Company Voluntary Arrangements (CVA)
  • Pre-Pack Administration
  • Administration
  • Court Winding Up
  • Creditors Voluntary Liquidation
  • Corporate Simplification
  • Members' Voluntary Liquidations or company reconstructions
  • Strategic Exit

For personal restructuring and debt advice, please visit our dedicated personal debt solution website FD Debt Solutions or contacts us on 0800 652 0002.

The financial aspects of running a business can be challenging, keeping on top of credit control is essential in running a profitable business. You have to ensure that all of your customers pay invoices within their contractual credit terms and operate within their contractual credit limits. Otherwise you are actually funding other businesses.

French Duncan restructuring and debt advisory team has over 25 years of experience working on behalf of creditors and can advise you on strategies for collecting debts and sorting out the “won’t pay” from the “can’t pay” debtors.

As a starting point we would look at the available financial information on the debtor companies involved in order to make an assessment of whether further debt recovery action should be initiated. Research on the debtor companies can sort those who can pay from those who can’t, leading to maximisation of returns from those debtors with viable businesses and good cashflow. The services we offer include:

  • Negotiation
    Very often all that's needed is for a professional and independent third party to enter negotiations and explain the possible outcomes to the debtor company if payments are not made. In all cases the presence of our insolvency professionals helps both creditors and debtors make an assessment of a realistic repayment plan and therefore come to an arrangement without any requirement for expensive legal procedures.
  • Liquidation
    Prior to the commencement of any legal action against the debtor company, we will carry out research on the financials of the company from all available information and present to you our opinion of the likely success of a liquidation petition in returning sums owed to you. It may well be that on the facts as researched from all information available and presented to you on the debtor company, you believe that there's no option but to petition for the liquidation of the debtor company. This will mean the appointment of a liquidator. In these circumstances, the debtor company's trade is likely to be brought to a close by the liquidator and you will therefore not incur any further losses through the trading of the debtor company. The liquidator’s job is then to realise any assets owned by the company for the benefit of all creditors.
  • Administration
    Appointment of Administrators by a creditor happens very seldomly, but can occur. If the debtor company is a profitable, active business then, if negotiation hasn’t been possible, the appointment of administrators could maximise the return to creditors. The insolvency practitioners (IP) in our team can assess any of your debtor companies to find out whether the appointment of administrators is likely to achieve the best return for your business.
  • Sequestration
    Where the debtor business is an individual or where the director of the business has provided a signed personal guarantee in relation to the debts of the company it is possible for us to help present a petition for sequestration of the person. Similar to cases of debtor company liquidation, one of our IPs would be put in place to control the estate of the sequestrated individual and realise any assets to make the best possible return to creditors.

Get in touch with our insolvency practitioners if you are a creditor and would like help with problem debtors. Our offices are located all over central Scotland in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hamilton, Stirling and Dumbarton.


Case Studies

Business Restructuring: Some recent highlights...

  • The liquidation and sale of The Scotsman Hotel in Edinburgh which was traded for a 6 month period …
Read more:

Meet some of our Business Restructuring & Insolvency experts



Eileen Blackburn

Eileen Blackburn
Partner & Head of Restructuring & Debt Advisory
e.blackburn@frenchduncan.co.uk
0131 243 0199

Brian  Milne

Brian Milne
Partner
b.milne@frenchduncan.co.uk
0141 221 2984

Linda Barr

Linda Barr
Restructuring & Debt Advisory Director
l.barr@frenchduncan.co.uk
01698 459 444

David McGinness

David McGinness
Restructuring & Debt Advisory Director
d.mcginness@frenchduncan.co.uk
0141 221 2984

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