Companies dealt with by the Public Interest Unit
The Public Interest Unit, also known as the PIU, deals with 'provisional liquidations'. At any time after a petition to wind-up a company has been presented, the Court can appoint a Provisional Liquidator to take control of the company. The Provisional Liquidator can either be the Official Receiver or a licensed Insolvency Practitioner. The usual function of a Provisional Liquidator is to protect the company's assets and records until the Court makes a ruling on the winding-up petition. In cases dealt with in PIU, this will usually, but not always, mean that the company will be made to cease trading.
The Public Interest Unit is one of the official receiver's offices, it is the main office that deals with provisional liquidations.
An official receiver from the Public Interest Unit (PIU) is usually appointed provisional liquidator following an investigation by Company Investigations . Company Investigations deals with complaints made by members of the public about the way a company is trading. Visit the following link to find out more about the work of company investigations.
If a company subject to a provisional liquidation order is later wound-up by the court, then the Public Interest Unit will deal with the case.
The Public Interest Unit also deals with:
- Winding-Up Orders that do not involve a previous provisional liquidation
- Some celebrity and high profile bankruptcy cases.
A provisional liquidator may be appointed after a petition to 'wind-up' a company has been presented to the court. This may be because there is concern that assets are at risk or because it is not in the 'public interest' for the company to continue trading. The assets and potential creditors are therefore protected until the court hears the winding-up petition. Alternatively, a provisional liquidator may be appointed to preserve a business until its financial affairs can be brought into order. The provisional liquidator will carry out duties as set out in the court's order in dealing with the company's assets and affairs.
At any time after a petition to 'wind-up' a company has been presented to the court, the court may appoint a Provisional Liquidator. Application for the appointment of a provisional liquidator may be made 'with notice' or 'without notice' to the company.
'With notice' means Company Investigations, on behalf of the Secretary of State, informs the company that it intends to apply to have the official receiver appointed as provisional liquidator and why. This may bring a response from the company and they may enter into dialogue with Company Investigations. 'Without notice' means that Company Investigations applies to the court without telling anyone, except the official receiver. This will happen where Company Investigations consider that the company's business should be brought to the court's immediate attention, and there is a real danger that assets will disappear if the company is made aware of the application, or that members of the public are suffering to such an extent that urgent action is required.
Ultimately, a High Court judge will decide if a provisional liquidator is appointed.
During a provisional liquidation the official receiver carries out duties as set out in the court order. These duties vary depending on the company concerned but they usually involve:
- Protecting assets
- Safeguarding the company's records
- Investigating the company's affairs only in so far as it is necessary to discover, protect and recover assets
Public Interest Unit staff will carry out an inspection of the trading premises on the day the provisional order is made. This usually involves removing all the company's property from their premises and dismissing any staff they may employ, so effectively the company cease to trade. The Director(s) of the company will also be interviewed. The unit will then carry on out investigations necessary in order to protect assets and secure company records.
If you have been dismissed as an employee of a company that has gone into provisional liquidation and would like further information about receiving a redundancy payment, please visit the Redundancy section.
The company will be returned to the control of the Director(s). All property will be returned to the trading premises and any assets that were being held by the Official Receiver will be released back to the company.
The Public Interest Unit receives two kind of 'winding-up orders'. Firstly, it deals with all cases where companies are wound-up in the public interest on the application of the Secretary of State (whether or not a provisional liquidator has been appointed beforehand). The court decides whether it is appropriate to wind-up a company on these grounds. Secondly, it deals with 'winding-up' of companies that have a unique nature or may attract national or international media attention.
We would suggest you search for the company you have dealt with in the A-Z search link where you will find specific information. However, if you have bought a product on a credit card but did not receive it we would suggest that you contact your credit card company, as they may be able to provide you with a refund under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act of 1974. You may want to seek further advice on credit issues from the Citizen's Advice Bureau (CAB).