Investigations and enforcement: what we do, our outcomes and complaints

Detailed information about the Insolvency Service’s investigation and enforcement work, how we achieve our outcomes and how to complain about misconduct.

The Insolvency Service’s official receivers are responsible for the administration and investigation of a case when:

  • a company goes into compulsory liquidation
  • a bankruptcy order is made
  • a debt relief order is made

Our company investigations team may investigate:

  • following other formal insolvency proceedings where we receive information about a director’s conduct (in one or more companies) that would make them unfit to manage a company if it was proven, and
  • taking into account all circumstances of the case, a court would be likely to make a disqualification order

We also have the power to conduct confidential investigations into limited companies and limited liability partnerships where we have received information that suggests serious corporate abuse. We can investigate when the company is actively trading or has ceased trading without entering into insolvency proceedings, but not when a company has been dissolved. If we feel it is appropriate, we may apply to the court for a company to be wound up and/ or for one or more directors to be disqualified.

These powers to investigate are civil and not criminal: We may pass on any information we receive to a prosecuting or regulatory body where they have more appropriate powers to deal with any misconduct we identify.

On 1 January 2017 the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s Criminal Enforcement Team transferred to the Insolvency Service. The team is the lead criminal enforcement agency for insolvency related fraud and associated corporate misconduct, working to deter fraud in companies and by bankrupts by prosecuting breaches of Insolvency and Company Law referred to them by other teams within the Insolvency Service, by Companies House and other agencies. They also deal with miscellaneous criminal matters arising within BEIS. As a prosecuting authority they make prosecution decisions in accordance with the Code of Crown Prosecutors. The team is separate and operates independently from the Insolvency Service’s other functions.

See also


Published 30 May 2014
Last updated 25 July 2018 + show all updates
  1. added document on reuse of company name
  2. Added guidance on complaints about the re-use of a company name
  3. Updated to reflect the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s Criminal Enforcement Team transferring to the Insolvency Service on 1 January 2017.
  4. First published.