Guidance

Reporting misconduct by companies, directors and bankrupts to the Insolvency Service

Detailed information about how to complain about misconduct to the Insolvency Service and what we will do about it.

Documents

Details

The Insolvency Service has powers given to it by law to consider complaints about:

  • people who are bankrupt or have a debt relief order
  • individuals subject to bankruptcy or debt relief restrictions
  • live companies where we’ve received reports of serious corporate abuse such as significant misconduct, fraud, scams or sharp practice in the way the company operates
  • the conduct of directors of companies that have entered into formal insolvency proceedings (administration, administrative receivership, creditors’ voluntary and compulsory liquidation)
  • a disqualified director/ bankrupt or somebody who has a debt relief order acting as a company director whilst disqualified or otherwise breaching their restrictions
  • the reuse of prohibited company names

Anybody can report misconduct relating to the above to us. Please note, the Insolvency Service cannot investigate complaints that do not relate to these matters, for example, we cannot investigate a complaint about a sole trader who is not bankrupt or if a company has been dissolved.

Our powers are different depending on whether a company is live, in compulsory liquidation, in other formal insolvency proceedings or has been dissolved. Check the Companies House register if you don’t know the status of the company that you want to complain about.

We will assess any information reported to us and consider whether to carry out further investigations. We may take further action against the bankrupt, director or company if we find things that concern us during our investigations.

We can only investigate complaints that we have the legal powers to deal with and may suggest you to another public body or pass your concerns on ourselves if this is appropriate. Please make it clear in your complaint if you don’t want us to do this.

If our enquiries show that a criminal offence may have been committed, we may send a report to the appropriate prosecuting authority (eg the police or our Criminal Enforcement Team). That authority will then decide whether to carry out a criminal investigation, and criminal proceedings may begin. You may be asked to give a formal statement before proceedings start.

If you wish to make an anonymous complaint, we may still be able to submit the matter to the relevant investigating authority. However, please note that they may only be able to take further action if they have suitable evidence or an appropriate witness, or both.

Published 3 August 2017
Last updated 2 August 2018 + show all updates
  1. added link to new publication in section 6. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/re-use-of-company-names
  2. First published.