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What Is a Winding-Up Petition?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 09 December 2014
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A winding-up petition is a legal petition filed in court by a creditor to compel a debtor to liquidate in order to satisfy a debt. The petition is a legal last resort and must include compelling evidence and arguments for a compulsory liquidation. Companies can respond to winding-up petitions, and there are a number of options available for evading liquidation if a company is interested in pursuing them.

Creditors use the petition to document attempts to recover the debt and they provide explicit details about the amount of the debt and where it originated. A judge will review the documentation and determine if the petition is fair and reasonable. If it is, the judge can issue an order authorizing liquidation of the company. The company's assets will be frozen and an investigator will be dispatched to catalog and value the company's assets in preparation for liquidation.

One option for responding to a winding-up petition is an argument that it is not fair or reasonable; for example, a company could provide documentation showing a debt is in forbearance or arguing that it thought it was negotiating in good faith with a creditor to resolve an issue. Companies can also contact their creditors and pay the loan in full, using available funds on hand, if there are any, or agreeing to liquidate assets to pay the debt, thus eliminating the need for liquidation. Companies can also agree to dissolve, undergoing the process voluntarily rather than being forced to.

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Before pursuing this legal remedy, creditors will usually try a number of options. Filing a winding-up petition can be expensive, and it is not guaranteed to succeed. Compelling a company to liquidate can also result in getting less of a return on the liquidation, as the company's assets may not command top sales prices when everyone knows the company is being forced to go out of business. As a result, creditors might not even be able to get their money back from the liquidation, especially when the costs of pursuing the debt are added to the base debt itself.

Usually, an attorney is consulted while developing a winding-up petition to make sure it complies with the law and provides necessary information. Creditors can also have their attorneys contact debtors and alert them to the fact that a petition is being considered, giving them one last chance to make good on the debt before the matter is taken to court. Using an attorney experienced in bankruptcy and related matters is recommended for the best results, as experience in this area can be very beneficial in court when filing a winding-up petition.

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