Covid-19: Working together with clients and other stakeholders

Friel Stafford > Blog > Business > Covid-19: Working together with clients and other stakeholders

Covid-19: Working together with clients and other stakeholders

  • Posted by: Jim Stafford
  • Category: Business, Uncategorized

We have established plans and procedures to continue providing a continuity of service to our clients and to other stakeholders that we deal with, particularly employees and creditors of insolvent companies and creditors of personal insolvency cases.

Throughout this period, we will remain available to you and fully operational. The only certainty is uncertainty.

We want to tell you what steps we have taken and how we can work together.

Remote Working

All of our professional staff-members are enabled to work remotely, using secure VPN links to our servers. Our files are all digitally available to us. So your emails, telephone calls and affairs will be dealt with in the normal way. Any important post addressed to staff members working from home will be scanned and emailed to staff so that they may handle it.

Client Meetings

We will continue to meet clients but only where this is necessary. Most cases will be conducted through emails or conference calls.

Impact on Creditors Voluntary Liquidations

Having explored all other rescue options, such as cost reduction, balance sheet re-structuring, Examinership, informal schemes etc we will only progress placing companies into CVL’s when they are “urgent“. In considering urgency, we will consider the following factors;

  • Is there a risk of the company being struck off for failure to file annual returns?
  • Are there employees who urgently need their employee entitlements to be processed by a liquidator?
  • Will the company’s position worsen due to ongoing rent/security issues etc ?

When it is necessary to organise creditors meetings we will ensure that the meeting room booked is large enough to ensure that the recommended distances for social distancing are able to be met.

We will need to convene some meetings of Committees of Inspection. However, we will encourage members to attend by conference call. If members do wish to physically attend such meetings we will ensure that the recommended distances for social distancing are maintained.

We are continuing to process employee claims for arrears of wages/holiday pay/minimum notice and redundancy. We do expect some delays in processing such claims by the Department of Social Protection. Internally, we will have some slight delays as staff are working from home.

Impact on Members Voluntary Liquidations

Instead of convening meetings of shareholders to pass the necessary resolutions we will offer the alternative of placing companies into MVL by written resolution, thus avoiding the necessity for meetings of shareholders.

Impact on Receiverships

We see little impact on Fixed Asset Receiverships, as no creditors meetings are required etc. We will continue to resolve title/planning and fire safety issues in order to place properties on the market.

Impact on possible Examinerships

An obvious solution for many businesses who will face financial difficulties arising from Covid-19 will be Examinership. However, in order to petition for Examinership an Independent Accountant will need to produce a report stating that the business has a reasonable prospect of survival. We would suggest that such predictions will be difficult to make in some industries and that many businesses will have to wait until the current crisis has subsided and trading returns to normal . However, the new “normal” may be significantly different from what existed before the crisis.

Impact on Personal Insolvency Arrangements/Debt Settlement Arrangements

We do not see much impact on creditors meetings in respect of PIAs/DSAs as creditors votes are normally carried out by proxy.

We are assuming that the Circuit Court and High Court will continue to progress applications for Protective Certificates/Extensions of Time etc.

It is important that creditors have procedures in place that they do not miss critical deadlines for submitting Proofs of Debt and Proxies for voting on time.

Unfortunately, we do predict an increased demand for PIAs/DSAs going forward.

We do see some current “income” based PIAs/DSAs coming under pressure as some Debtors’ incomes will be reduced. As Personal Insolvency Practitioners, we can invoke a payment break for the unsecured debt payments for up to a 4 month maximum duration at any one time, which time will then be added onto the end of the insolvency term. Depending on the level of uncertainty and longer term impact a Variation may be an option. As PIPs we cannot grant any such payment break in respect of mortgage payments that are made directly by a debtor to their bank. However we can assist by asking the banks for a break in the mortgage payments.

Impact on Corporate Finance assignments/Forensic Accounting assignments

We will continue to work as normal on these assignments.

Impact on audit/tax clients

We see little impact on our work in this area as most of our clients’ accounting packages are based on cloud platforms.

Impact on our Insolvency Helpline

We will continue to provide a full service on our insolvency helpline: 01 661 4066. Our helpline is also available by email on: info@frielstafford.ie

We are currently dealing with an increased number of call to our helpline.

As corporate recovery and insolvency experts, we can generally answer, without research, 99% of helpline queries ranging from dealing with the Revenue Sheriff to what entitlements employees have in a liquidation.

Further measures

As the situation develops, it may be necessary to take further measures. We will update this posting as matters develop.

It is a rapidly evolving situation. Only this morning the hotel that we normally use for creditors meetings in respect of Creditors Voluntary Liquidations, the Harcourt Hotel, announced that it was closing temporarily. Three companies that we are being appointed as liquidator to had already advertised creditors meetings to be held in the Harcourt Hotel. As a result of the hotel closing we will have one of our staff at the hotel door 30 minutes before the scheduled time for the creditors meeting advising creditors where the meetings will be held, which will be a local venue.

If you have any queries or concerns, please contact one of our directors on 01 661 4066 or by email as follows:

Jim Stafford: jim.stafford@frielstafford.ie

Tom Murray: tom.murray@frielstafford.ie

Andrew Hendrick: andrew.hendrick@frielstafford.ie

We hope that these precautions and steps contribute to us all coming through these challenging times, healthy and safe.

Author: Jim Stafford