When a shop, company or trader goes out of business and ceases trading, it can adversely affect all of the people who have used that business. If you have not received goods, services or money that you are owed because of this, then you still have some legal rights. However, it can be much harder to sort these issues out, and there is no guarantee that you will receive the goods or services that you paid for, or money that you might be owed.
Your first steps should be to get in contact with the company to find out what is happening. Some companies will have a plan in place to assist their customers if the worst should happen. However, it can be difficult to reach a representative of the company at this time, especially if other customers are trying to get in contact at the same time.
If you are unable to contact the company
If you are unable to get hold of the company, you may not be sure as to whether they have actually gone out of business or not. It is possible to search for the company name on the Companies House website (if they are a limited company: Ltd or Plc) or the Insolvency Register (if they are a sole trader or partnership). Information can take a few weeks to appear on these sites. You may need to check back a few times if you still cannot get in touch with the business.
If you are certain that the company has gone out of business, you will need to try to find information about the administrator or receiver. This is the person who is responsible for settling the trader’s debts. This information is essential if you want to make a successful claim.
If you cannot get hold of the company directly to discuss how your claim is to be settled, then you will need to take action in a different way.
If you are owed money by that company, then you must fill out a form to register your details as an owed creditor. This will include full details of what you are owed by the trader. It should be then sent to the administrator to be added to the list of all of the people who are owed money by that company. Your debt may not be considered to be a priority debt, so you may only be paid after other debts have been paid.
If you paid for your products with a credit card and the cost was more than £100, you can try to apply for a Section 75 claim. Credit card payments are better protected than debit card payments, so the card provider may be able to return the money to your account. If you paid with a debit card, you should ask to speak to a manager about the “chargeback” scheme. This scheme is relatively uncommon, so regular branch staff may not be fully aware of it.