What happens during voluntary administration

An overview of the process

If your business is failing, you may be able to save it by choosing to bring in an administrator — this is called voluntary administration.

Choosing voluntary administration

While your company can be forced into administration, your board of directors can also voluntarily choose to appoint an administrator. Seek professional legal and financial advice before taking this step.

In deciding whether voluntary administration is an option for your company, you need to find out:

  • whether it has the support of your creditors, and
  • whether your creditors are likely to gain more financial benefit from your company avoiding liquidation and continuing to trade.

Other considerations include the:

  • extent, nature and spread of your company's debts
  • attitude of key suppliers
  • history of your company's dealings with creditors
  • availability of cash flow.

If you choose to enter into voluntary administration, an administrator is appointed to review and rearrange your business and financial affairs.

If your company can't be saved, the administrator's focus is to provide creditors and shareholders with a better financial return than might have been achieved were your company put straight into liquidation.

Appointing an administrator

An administrator must be a licensed insolvency practitioner. The administrator will:

  • take control of, and investigates, the business and financial affairs of your company
  • report their findings to creditors at creditors' meetings, and
  • put forward recommendations about the future of your company for creditors to vote on at a watershed meeting.

You can find a licensed insolvency practitioner by searching the Insolvency Practitioners Register. Search for a licensed insolvency practitioner

Once the administrator has filed notice of their appointment, your company's status on the Companies Register is changed from 'Registered' to 'In voluntary administration'.

Your responsibilities as a director

As a director of a company in voluntary administration, you remain in office but your powers are limited.

You must assist the administrator by providing information that includes, but isn't limited to:

  • your company's accounts, records and any other information required, and
  • a statement of your company's business affairs and financial circumstances for presentation at the first creditors' meeting.

You're also required to attend a watershed meeting where your creditors vote on the future of your company.

Creditors' meetings

At least 2 creditors' meetings are held during voluntary administration.

The administrator must call and advertise:

  • a first creditors' meeting to discuss matters arising from the administration and to consider the appointment of a committee of creditors
  • a watershed meeting at which creditors vote to decide the future of your company
  • other creditors' meetings as required.

Ending voluntary administration

What happens after the watershed meeting depends on whether your company is returned to you, placed in liquidation, or enters into a deed of company arrangement. Your creditors vote on these options, considering the recommendations of the administrator.

If your company goes into liquidation, your status on the Companies Register is changed from Registered to In liquidation.

If a deed of company arrangement is executed, your company's status on the register is changed from In voluntary administration to Registered. This occurs when the deed is filed with the Companies Office.

Filing annual returns

While your company is in voluntary administration you don't need to file an annual return. Once administration ends — if your company continues to trade and remains on the Companies Register — you must file your next and future annual returns as they become due.

All help topics

Before you start a company 5 guides

Get an overview of how companies are structured, find out about the company records you need to keep, and what's involved when you incorporate with and report to the Companies Office.

Shares and shareholders 7 guides

When you incorporate, you must provide details of all company shares and shareholders. As changes occur, you must update this information on your own share register and in your company's annual return.

Company directors 7 guides

Directors have responsibilities to their company and shareholders, and under the Companies Act 1993. You must register all your directors with the Companies Office and they must sign a consent form.​

Filing annual returns 8 guides

Find out about filing an annual return — the information you need to update, how to change your filing month or request a time extension — and what happens if you don't file your annual return by the due date.

Complying with the law 11 guides

Restoring a company to the register 4 guides

Only some companies can be reinstated to the Companies Register once they've been removed. Find out who can apply, what evidence to provide and if you should apply to the Registrar or the High Court.

Managing your online account 8 guides