Comprehensive Study Insolvency Australian

Comprehensive Study Insolvency Australian

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Comprehensive Study Insolvency Australian

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Comprehensive Study Insolvency Australian

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An organization or an individual, which can no longer meet the financial commitments with the creditors, and pay its debts on time, is deemed to be insolvent. Before a company is declared as insolvent, the higher authorities would try to make alternative arrangements for the payments by informal agreements with its lenders. Insolvency in most cases arises from an improper planning of cash flow of a business and lack of proper strategies to counter unexpected financial calamities (Mäntysaari, 2011). According to Section A of the Corporations Act, a company is insolvent if it is unable to pay its debts when it becomes due and has defaulted on its outstanding payments on more than one occassion. The different indicators that a company is becoming insolvent are:

When the cheques issued by a company is dishonoured on more than one occasion.
When there are increasing legal complications for the company in the form of warrants or summons.
When the company faces increasing difficulties to pay its creditor’s and finds it hard to arrange alternative sources of funding on time.

To counter the risk of insolvency, the Board of Directors can try negotiating with the creditors to work out a workable payment method (Valackien? and Virbickait?, 2011). The directors may try to convince the creditors by devising a payment frequency and a fixed payment amount which could be met every month without fail. All the unwanted and fringe expenses are to be avoided immediately. The excess number of staff, the advertising expenses and the rents paid for the premises can be reduced by confining themselves to a more compact space. Other measures like selling the assets of the company and chasing the debts can also help the company recover from the impending danger of dissolution after insolvency.
There are many potential risks for the Board of Directors in the event of a company being insolvent. The higher authorities in a Company would always be well aware of the current financial position of the Company and the associated risks if it would be winding up soon (Kitromilides, 2011). If the Company fails to repay its debts, the liabilities of the company would be passed on to the Directors under certain situations. One such circumstance is when the Director of the Company decides to be the guarantor for the debts taken over the personal assets. In such a scenario, he would be held responsible for the repayment of the debts. Similarly, the Company is not supposed to be involved in trade while it is already or soon to be insolvent. It is the personal responsibility of the Board of Directors to ensure that the investors are not in potential risk by involving in trading while at the risk of being insolvent. Another scenario is when a higher authority of the Company decides to intentionally transfer the assets of the Company to a new one. This transfer may be in the form of transfer of funds or transfer of assets to the new Company. There is also another term associated with insolvent companies that are involved in trading called as ‘wrongful trading’. Wrongful trading denotes that the company has been involved in trading even after the Directors had been able to conclude that further investing in the company would incur huge losses to the potential investors (Arsalidou, 2010).
If there is an impending threat of a Company being insolvent, there are a few expedient solutions that the Board of Directors can adopt as feasible measures to counter an immediate dissolution. The most important thing to be done in such a scenario is to try and convince the Creditors that the debt would be paid in full without delay (Mazarr, 2012). An informal agreement is made with the creditors which ensure that the payments would be done on a regular basis on convenient instalments. These conditions should be agreeable to both the parties. This informal agreement is made binding by certain regulations called as the Company voluntary Agreement. The CVA as it is more commonly known gives an assurance to the creditors that the payment would be done in whole or in part, within a stipulated time.
A formal procedure followed by the Board of Directors in times of insolvency is to place the companies operation under an ‘Administration’. While being in an Administration, all the operations of the Company are transferred to an individual called as the ‘Insolvency Practitioner’. Being under an Administration would mean that the Company gets considerable time and leeway during the insolvency period to recover from its financial problems (Routledge and Morrison, 2012). It gives an option to the Directors to gain some time for repayment and also not having to pay in full to the Creditors. The Administrator could be assigned with the responsibility of selling the Business and try to salvage more through the assets than what could be gained from dissolution. Being under an administration could prove advantageous to both the Creditors and the company administration as the creditors cannot enforce any legal action against the company while it is under an administration. The administrator may give a few proposals workable for both the parties whose acceptance is left up to the discretion of the Creditors.
To recover from immediate winding up certain practices are adopted by companies all over the world. One of the most often quoted solution for insolvency is ‘intervention’. An intervention is a procedure in which an external entity is introduced to take control of the business operations to bail out a company from an impending difficulty, which would be financial in nature. Interventions are mostly done to rectify the weak areas of the company. The method of intervention in a business may vary to a great extent depending upon the current problems and their severity. Two types of interventions occur which could be voluntary or involuntary in nature. Administration, introduction of a Insolvency Practitioner and Receivership are a few methods of voluntary intervention. Winding up the company’s operations entirely by liquidation or dissolution comes under involuntary intervention. A controlling body called ASIC which stands for the Australian Securities and Investments Commission was created to independently regulate the Corporate Law and Consumer Protection Law towards the interest of the companies throughout Australia (Schwartz, 2013). The scope of ASIC and its regulatory powers spans over different areas such as banking, insurance and investments. The primary objective of ASIC is to preserve the interests of the Creditors, Investors and Consumers in Australia by adhering closely to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act, 2001. The duties of ASIC ensures that the financial markets of Australia are stable and transparent, providing safety to the investors and consumers in their financial transactions with a company.
Apart from ASIC, another regulating agency called AFSA was set up under the Public Service Act in 1999 for managing and regulating the personal insolvency system. The AFSA which stands for the Australian Financial Security Authority provides insolvency services and regulates the bankruptcy and personal properties security laws. The duties performed by AFSA include the registering of all agreements such as the personal insolvency and debt agreements pertaining to bankruptcy (Kraakman et al., 2017). The AFSA ensures the financial compliance are maintained by the defaulters or the administrating authorities of a company according to the Bankruptcy Act.
The steps followed by these regulating agencies, especially the ASIC, helps in maintaining the confidence of the creditors in the insolvent companies by implementing new reforms and initiatives which are workable and practical (Xu et. al, 2011). The ASIC also helps in regulating the actions of the Administrators, Insolvency Practitioners and Receivers when the control of an insolvent company is being transferred to them. These regulating bodies also supervise the actions of a liquidator to settle the debts of a company if all other alternative measures fail. 
The insolvency rates of the Australian Companies is enumerated and published by a regulatory board called as The Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA). The AFSA releases and publishes the bankruptcy and insolvency rates of Australian Companies each financial year. The statistics of the data is taken very precisely from both the debtors and the creditors. The national average of the total insolvency statistics is collected on a territorial basis which ranges from provincial to state levels before being tallied and estimated for the entire nation (Gallery, et. al, 2008).
Insolvency statistic reports termed as ‘Series 1’ and ‘Series 2’ is released by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) on a monthly frequency. Series 1 report denotes the companies that enter into an external administration in case of insolvency, and Series 2 indicates the total number of insolvency appointments done. The data source for both thee reports is the Forms 505, which is an intimation that an external administrator has been appointed for an insolvent company and is lodged by the administrator (Wyburn, 2014).
According to the statistics for the latest quarter for the financial year 2016 – 2017, the companies that had to enter into external administration had increased by a margin of 28%. The number of external appointments made came around 2200, an estimated 400 increase from the previous quarter. The total number of companies that appointed an external administrator related to insolvency remained as low as around 4% compared to the previous quarter. The statistical report for the current quarter in 2017 denotes that personal businesses and construction were the industries that were reported to have the highest number of insolvency rates.  
There are many topical issues faced by the Company Directors in Australia in case of insolvency. If the insolvency leads to liquidation, there may be chances of a criminal investigation not only on the business transactions, but the general conduct of either one or all of the Directorial Board members (Hensher, 2015). The penalties in case of a misinterpretation or fraud involve a restriction from holding any authority in a company for a stipulated period.  Or it could be a legal prosecution that may even end up in a prison sentence for the Companies Director. If a member of the Directorial Board acts as a personal guarantor for the Creditors, the debt of the company can be enforced upon him if there is a failure in the repayment. This will be a personal liability as the debts could be due to the misinterpretations of finance by the authorities. There may be even a risk of all the assets of the business being sold to pay off the remaining debts to the creditors.  This may also include the statutory fees of the legal practitioners like the insolvency practitioner, receiver or the administrator. Once the company becomes insolvent, the experienced employees that were associated with the company have to look for other vacancies. This can be disadvantageous if the authority plans to rebuild the company with the expertise of its former employees.
Other than being wound up by the Creditors there are certain steps that could be followed by the administration to avert the possible dissolution or liquidation. The practical thing to follow after insolvency or a financial accounting dilemma is to control and curtail the possible expenditure (Amankwah-Amoah and Durugbo, 2016). The Board of Directors can try for alternative source of funding or launch an emergency appeal to protect themselves from the impending risks of getting wounded up. Handing over the reins of the Company to the Insolvency Practitioner may be highly recommended as the expertise of such a person could bail out the company from the crisis, provided that the risks are maintainable. The Directorial Board could also consider the possibilities of a merger with another business, by retaining most of the former employees. This could help the management in utilizing the expertise of the experienced employees. Renegotiation with the Creditors could be considered as an option, with specific regulations on the amount to be paid at a fixed frequency. This could buy the management more time to strategize better and come out with better solutions.
From the extensive research on successful Australian Companies like Wesfarmers and BHPBilliton, few precautionary measures are identified to avoid the risks of being insolvent. The foremost principle for a trading company is to negotiate regularly with the customers on timely payments. Maintaining a smooth flow of cash by invoicing the customers on time and ensuring the timely payment would help the company in deflecting any possible threats of insolvency (Allie, 2016). Bad debts should be disallowed at any cost and there should be strict follow up measures to chase debts and collect them from the concerned parties. Overtrading is another trap that small scale businesses fall into, taking up more orders than the existing resources can handle. This would only lead to complications for the business in the future. Keeping a check on the stock at regular intervals and disposing unused assets can help in maintaining the cash flow. If a strict follow up is made on all these measures, the risks of any impending financial issues for the company and the Board of Directors can be avoided.
Allie, J., West, D. and Willows, G., 2016. The value of financial advice: An analysis of the investment performance of advised and non-advised individual investors. Investment Analysts Journal, 45(Supplement 1), pp.63-74.
Amankwah-Amoah, J. and Durugbo, C., 2016. The rise and fall of technology companies: The evolutional phase model of ST-Ericsson’s dissolution. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 102, pp.21-33.
Arsalidou, D., 2010. The banking crisis: rethinking and refining the accountability of bank directors. Journal of Business Law, 4, pp.284-310.
Gallery, G., Cooper, E. and Sweeting, J., 2008. Corporate disclosure quality: lessons from Australian companies on the impact of adopting International Financial Reporting Standards. Australian Accounting Review, 18(3), pp.257-273.
Hensher, D.A., Jones, S. and Greene, W.H., 2007. An error component logit analysis of corporate bankruptcy and insolvency risk in Australia. Economic Record, 83(260), pp.86-103.
Kitromilides, Y., 2011. Deficit reduction, the age of austerity, and the paradox of insolvency. Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, 33(3), pp.517-536.
Kraakman, R., Armour, J. and Davies, P., 2017. The anatomy of corporate law: a comparative and functional approach. Oxford University Press.
Mäntysaari, P., 2011. Organising the firm: theories of commercial law, corporate governance and corporate law. Springer Science & Business Media.
Mazarr, M.J., 2012. The risks of ignoring strategic insolvency. The Washington Quarterly, 35(4), pp.7-22.
Routledge, J. and Morrison, D., 2012. Insolvency administration as a strategic response to financial distress. Australian Journal of Management, 37(3), pp.441-459.
Schwartz, C., 2013. G20 Financial Regulatory Reforms and Australia. RBA Bulletin, September, pp.77-85.
Valackien?, A. and Virbickait?, R., 2011. Conceptualization of crisis situation in a company. Journal of Business Economics and Management, 12(2), pp.317-331.
Wyburn, M., 2014. Debt agreements for consumers under bankruptcy law in Australia and developing international principles and standards for personal insolvency. International Insolvency Review, 23(2), pp.101-121.
Xu, Y., Jiang, A.L., Fargher, N. and Carson, E., 2011. Audit reports in Australia during the global financial crisis. Australian Accounting Review, 21(1), pp.22-31.

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