What is an Insolvency Practitioner – How to Pick the One For You

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In the complex world of business, companies can sometimes find themselves in financial distress. This distress can lead to a state of insolvency, which is when a company or individual is unable to pay debts when they’re due or has more liabilities than assets. At such challenging times, there’s one professional figure who can provide crucial help and guidance – the Insolvency Practitioner, often abbreviated as IP.

An Insolvency Practitioner is a licensed professional who has the legal authority to act on behalf of companies, individuals, or partnerships that are insolvent or facing financial uncertainty. An IP is instrumental in navigating a range of procedures, including voluntary arrangements, administration, and liquidation processes. Their role is to explore every possible recovery option, prioritising the best interests of creditors, and, where possible, rescuing the business.

Over the course of this guide, we’ll delve deeper into the definition of an insolvency practitioner, their duties, responsibilities, qualifications required, and how to select the right Insolvency Practitioner for your needs. We’ll also explore how IPs can aid with voluntary arrangements, company administration, and voluntary liquidation, among other services, to help companies and individuals navigate their way through financial distress. Whether you’re an individual or a business, understanding the role and value of an Insolvency Practitioner could be the key to surviving challenging financial circumstances.

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The Role and Duties of an Insolvency Practitioner

Understanding the full scope of an Insolvency Practitioner’s role is crucial to comprehend how they can support businesses or individuals in financial distress. The work of an IP is governed by various regulations in the UK, and they are typically licensed by a professional body such as The Insolvency Practitioners Association (IPA)

An IP’s primary responsibility is to administer insolvency procedures fairly and impartially. They work closely with the struggling entity and its creditors, striving to reach a mutually agreeable solution. Here are some specific duties they typically handle:

  1. Advising on Insolvency: IPs provide professional advice to companies and individuals about their financial situation and the options available to them. This advice includes an assessment of the viability of a business rescue or recovery, taking into account the interests of all involved parties, such as the company’s directors, creditors, and members.
  2. Administration of Insolvency Procedures: This is perhaps the most recognisable aspect of an IP’s role. They manage a range of formal insolvency procedures such as Company Voluntary Arrangements (CVAs), Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs), administration, and different types of liquidation, including Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation (CVL) and Members’ Voluntary Liquidation (MVL). Each procedure has different implications and processes, but the overarching goal remains to provide the best outcome for the creditors.
  3. Acting as an Intermediary: The IP serves as an intermediary between the insolvent company or individual and their creditors, ensuring all parties are informed about the progress and outcomes of insolvency procedures. This is a critical role as it can help to minimise disputes and ensure smoother proceedings.
  4. Asset Realisation: IPs have a duty to take control of and sell (where necessary) the insolvent party’s assets. The goal is to maximise the returns for the creditors.
  5. Distributing Proceeds to Creditors: After asset realisation, the IP is responsible for distributing the proceeds to the creditors in a prescribed order of priority.
  6. Reporting Misconduct: In cases where IPs find evidence of wrongful trading or misconduct by the directors of a company, they have a duty to report this to the Insolvency Service.

Selecting the right Insolvency Practitioner is critical for those facing insolvency. They need a professional with the necessary experience, qualifications, and a solid track record to handle their case effectively and efficiently. In the following sections, we’ll explore the qualifications required to become an IP, and how to pick the best one for your specific needs.

Licensing Requirements and Qualifications

Becoming an Insolvency Practitioner is not a straightforward path; it requires specific qualifications and rigorous examination. Moreover, all IPs in the UK need to be licensed by a recognised professional body. The licensing process is there to ensure that the practitioner possesses the knowledge, experience, and skills necessary to deliver professional insolvency services.

Requirements to Become a Licensed IP

  1. Academic Qualifications: Typically, anyone aspiring to be an IP should have a degree, preferably in law, business, or finance. However, having a degree is not mandatory. Many professionals start their journey in the field of insolvency by working with an experienced IP or insolvency firm, learning the practical aspects of the job.
  2. Professional Experience: Prior experience in insolvency or a related field is a critical requirement. Aspiring IPs must gain practical experience by working in an insolvency firm or directly under a licensed IP.
  3. Examinations: Aspiring IPs must pass a set of exams administered by the Joint Insolvency Examination Board (JIEB). The JIEB examinations are recognised as a gold standard in insolvency qualifications.

The Joint Insolvency Examination Board (JIEB)

The JIEB is a recognised professional body responsible for setting and administering examinations in the UK. These exams are designed to test an individual’s understanding of insolvency law and practice, thereby maintaining high standards of competency and professional conduct among licensed insolvency practitioners.

To become a licensed IP, candidates must pass two compulsory papers. The compulsory papers are:

  • Personal Insolvency
  • Corporate Insolvency

Each of these examinations is three and a half hours long, and they test the candidates’ knowledge of insolvency law, liquidation services, voluntary arrangements, business recovery and more.

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Working with an Insolvency Practitioner

Once financial distress looms over a business or an individual, engaging with a licensed Insolvency Practitioner becomes crucial. So, what can you expect when working with an IP?

What to Expect

An Insolvency Practitioner will provide professional advice on the most suitable way to handle your situation. They will thoroughly review the financial circumstances, explain the options available, and guide you through the process, reducing the burden of financial distress. The aim here is to provide the best outcome for all parties involved, whether it’s rescuing the business or ensuring fair distribution of assets to creditors in cases of liquidation.

How to Reach Out to an Insolvency Practitioner

Most licensed insolvency practitioners or firms will have their contact details readily available on their official websites. A quick call or email to schedule a consultation can get the process started. Confidentiality is of utmost importance in these situations, so rest assured your financial troubles are discussed in a private and professional manner.

How to Choose an Insolvency Practitioner

When dealing with insolvency, whether personal or corporate, it’s important to have the right professional by your side. Here are some factors to consider when choosing a licensed Insolvency Practitioner (IP):


One of the first things to consider when choosing an IP is their level of experience. You want to work with a professional who has a deep understanding of the process and has dealt with cases similar to yours. This ensures they can provide appropriate advice and are capable of navigating complex situations.


Cost is another important consideration. Different IPs and firms may have varying fee structures for their services. Make sure to ask about fees upfront so there are no surprises down the line. While cost should not be the sole determining factor, it is a crucial aspect to consider.

Professional Service

Professionalism is key when choosing an IP. You want to feel confident that your case is being handled with the utmost care and respect. Read reviews, ask for references, and take note of how the IP or their team communicates with you.


While insolvency is largely governed by UK law, it can be helpful to work with an IP in your local area. For instance, if you are based in Leeds, you may prefer to work with insolvency practitioners in Leeds. We at Company Doctor help clients throughout England and Wales.

Professional Team and Business Rescue Approach

Check whether the IP works as part of a professional team. Teams can bring a broader range of expertise and skills to the table. Furthermore, look for IPs who approach cases with a ‘business rescue’ mindset. This means they focus on finding ways to save the business if possible, rather than rushing towards liquidation.

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The Insolvency Process

Dealing with insolvency can be complex and challenging, but a better understanding of the procedures can help bring clarity to the process.

Overview of Formal Insolvency Procedures

The type of procedure used typically depends on the specific financial distress situation of the individual or company. Here are some key procedures:

  • Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA): A CVA is a formal agreement between a company and its creditors to pay off a proportion of its debts over time. The aim of a CVA is to allow the company to continue trading and return to profitability while repaying its debts.
  • Voluntary Liquidation: This can be in the form of a Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation (CVL) or a Members’ Voluntary Liquidation (MVL). A CVL is initiated by the directors when a company is insolvent and unable to pay its debts. An MVL, on the other hand, is initiated by the members of a solvent company that decides to cease trading for various reasons.
  • Administration: Company Administration is a procedure designed to rescue a company. When a company enters administration, an IP takes control of the business to try to save it or at least recover more money for creditors than if it was simply liquidated.

For more information on Creditors Voluntary Liquidation see our page

Role of the IP in Business Recovery and Financial Distress Situations

In the face of financial distress, IPs play an important role in helping businesses navigate their recovery options. They provide advice and guide the process, whether that’s entering into a Company Voluntary Arrangement, going into administration, or choosing voluntary liquidation. Their role involves impartially assessing the business’s financial position and providing guidance based on the best interest of all parties involved, including creditors.

Solvent Companies and Insolvency Practitioners

Insolvency Practitioners (IPs) aren’t just for businesses facing insolvency; they also work with solvent companies in several key areas.

Working with Solvent Companies

When a solvent company decides it’s time to close its doors, the IP’s role is crucial. They may assist in facilitating a smooth and effective wind-down process, helping to ensure all legal obligations are met, and assets are distributed fairly among members.

IPs can also offer advice on various corporate issues. For instance, they might provide guidance to a solvent company considering a strategic restructuring or looking to maximise shareholder wealth.

Members Voluntary Liquidation (MVL)

A Members Voluntary Liquidation is a process designed specifically for solvent companies. An MVL allows a solvent company to be formally wound up and its assets distributed amongst its members.

This procedure is often utilised when the members of a company decide to retire, or if they have no further use for the company. It’s a tax-efficient way to distribute the assets of the company, but requires a declaration of solvency confirming the company can pay its debts in full within 12 months.

The role of the IP in this process is vital. They guide the company through the MVL, ensuring all necessary legal and financial steps are followed.

For more information on MVLs see our dedicated page.

Insolvency Practitioners and Liquidation Services

The journey through insolvency can be challenging. This is where the professional help of Insolvency Practitioners (IPs) becomes invaluable. Their guidance can help to ease the process and find the best possible solution for your business.

Liquidation Services Offered by IPs

When a company opts for liquidation, it can choose from different types: voluntary liquidation, compulsory liquidation, or members’ voluntary liquidation. The choice of liquidation depends on whether the company is solvent or insolvent, and whether the decision to wind up the company is voluntary.

Voluntary Liquidation

Voluntary liquidation is a process initiated by the directors and approved by the shareholders. It’s an option taken when the company is insolvent, or the directors foresee that insolvency is imminent. An IP is appointed to administer the procedure, realise the company’s assets, and distribute the proceeds to creditors.

In cases where voluntary liquidation is pursued due to insolvency, it is known as a Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation (CVL). In cases where the company is solvent, it’s referred to as a Members’ Voluntary Liquidation (MVL).

Individual Voluntary Arrangements

Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs) are another area where IPs can help. An IVA is a formal agreement between an individual and their creditors to pay back their debts over a period of time. This option can be an alternative to bankruptcy and can give the creditor some return.

In this case, the IP acts as the nominee and supervisor, putting together the proposal for the IVA, presenting it to creditors, and overseeing the debtor’s compliance with the IVA terms once it’s agreed.


Navigating through the stormy waters of insolvency can be a daunting task for any individual or business. However, understanding the role of an Insolvency Practitioner (IP) and how they can assist in these circumstances can be the beacon of light in an otherwise bleak situation.

Reach out, call for help and have a confidential consultation with our professional team. It’s never too early or too late to seek help and use our liquidation services for your problems.

Whether you’re in Leeds or anywhere else in the UK, remember that getting advice from an IP at the right time can be a game-changer. So, don’t hesitate. If you or your business are facing financial challenges and want to know if there are any recovery options, seek a confidential consultation from Company Doctor. Our contact details are 0800 169 1536.


What is an Insolvency Practitioner?

An Insolvency Practitioner (IP) is a licensed professional who is authorised to act in relation to an individual, a partnership or a company that is insolvent, or is facing insolvency. They play a crucial role in overseeing formal insolvency procedures and ensuring that these procedures are carried out according to legal requirements.

What does an Insolvency Practitioner do?

An IP performs a range of duties, including advising businesses on recovery options, overseeing formal insolvency procedures like voluntary arrangements and liquidation, negotiating with creditors, and distributing the assets of an insolvent company among its creditors. They can also help solvent companies go through a process called Members’ Voluntary Liquidation.

How can an Insolvency Practitioner help my business?

An IP can help your business in several ways. If your business is facing financial distress, an IP can provide advice on recovery options and help you navigate formal insolvency procedures. They can also negotiate with your creditors to arrange a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA), which allows your business to repay its debts over time.

How to become a licensed Insolvency Practitioner?

To become a licensed IP, you need to pass the Joint Insolvency Examination Board (JIEB) exams, which are challenging and require a deep understanding of insolvency law and practice. After passing these exams, you need to gain experience in insolvency work and then apply for a license from a recognised professional body.

What is a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) and how does it work?

A CVA is a formal agreement between a business and its creditors that allows the business to repay its debts over a set period. This arrangement is overseen by an IP who will work with the company to put together a proposal for the creditors. The proposal will detail how the company plans to repay its debts. If the creditors agree to the proposal, the CVA is implemented.

What is voluntary liquidation and how can an IP assist with it?

Voluntary liquidation is a formal insolvency procedure where a company decides to stop trading and liquidate its assets to pay off its creditors. An IP plays a crucial role in this process, overseeing the liquidation of assets, negotiating with creditors, and ensuring that the process is carried out legally and ethically.

What should I expect during a confidential consultation with an IP?

During a confidential consultation, you can discuss your business’s financial situation with the IP. They will listen to your concerns, assess your company’s financial situation, and provide advice on the best course of action. This consultation is completely confidential, so you can speak openly about your business’s challenges and financial difficulties.

How can I contact an IP for advice and assistance?

You can contact Company Doctor on 0800 169 1536 and have a confidential chat with our team. Or you can leave an enquiry on our website and one of the team will call you back.


The primary sources for this article are listed below.

Insolvency Practitioners Association

Joint Insolvency Examination (JIE)

Details of our standards for producing accurate, unbiased content can be found in our editorial policy here.

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