Headed by Gareth O’Hara, Senior Partner, the Wilkes Partnership’s Corporate Team has advised Redditch based Quattro Pensions in a deal which sees it become part of the Broadstone Group, one of the UK’s leading employee benefits and pensions consultancies.

Quattro Pensions specialises in actuarial and scheme administration services which will complement and enhance both the service offering and geographical reach of the Broadstone Group.

As yet another deal completed successfully by his team Gareth said “We’re very pleased to have been able to help the shareholders of Quattro take this very significant step. They’ve worked incredibly hard over the last twenty years to build a reputation that is respected throughout the industry. Becoming part of the Broadstone Group will be beneficial to their clients and staff”.

Quattro has grown its presence in the market mainly through referral which speaks volumes about the personal and pragmatic service it offers to clients. Liz Loosmore, founder director at Quattro commented “Finding a partner who shared our values was very important to the Quattro leadership team. We have worked closely with the Broadstone Group for many years and we’re confident that now is the right time to join forces with them.”

Helen Smart, Solicitor at the Wilkes Partnership said “It’s been pleasure working with the Quattro team to complete this deal. The team worked hard to bring the transaction to a close in the time scale required.”

Nicola Davies and Claire Lea of Prime Accountants provided tax advice on the deal. Nicola said “We have worked with Quattro and the directors and shareholders since 2007 and have assisted in their growth. I look forward to watching further progress now that they have joined the larger Broadstone network.”

If you need advice on a corporate transaction or commercial matter, contact Gareth O’Hara on 0121 710 5904 or at gohara@wilkes.co.uk or Helen Smart on 0121 710 5804 or at hsmart@wilkes.co.uk.

 

 

 

 

Kate Campbell-Gunn specialises in personal injury and medical negligence matters at the Wilkes Partnership. The nature of her work means that she only becomes aware of client’s situation when things have deteriorated to a point where it has become necessary to seek legal advice. Here, Kate shares her experience of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) and offers some wise words on dealing with this life-threatening condition.

Kate says “I should start by saying that TSS is rare, but that means that diagnosing and treating it early enough to save a life can be a challenge, even for experienced medical professionals”.

TSS is caused by bacteria entering the body and releasing harmful toxins. It’s often associated with tampon use in young women, but it can affect anyone of any age, including men and children. Once contracted, the condition deteriorates very quickly and can be fatal if not treated promptly. Fortunately, early diagnosis and treatment sees most people make a full recovery.

Symptoms to look out for include:

  • a high temperature (fever) of 39C (102.2F) or above
  • confusion
  • flu-like symptoms such as a headache, chills, muscle aches, a sore throat and a cough
  • diarrhoea
  • sunburn-like rash
  • nausea and vomiting
  • dizziness and fainting
  • the whites of the eyes, lips and tongue turning a bright red
  • breathing difficulties
  • drowsiness.

Kate continues “TSS is a medical emergency. While these symptoms could be due an illness other than TSS, it’s important to contact your GP, local out of hours’ service, or NHS 111 as soon as possible if you have a combination of any of these symptoms. If the symptoms are severe or deteriorate rapidly, go to your nearest A&E or call 999 for an ambulance”.

“Giving your doctor as much information as you can is essential to help them make a speedy and accurate diagnosis. If you’re using a tampon when the symptoms strike you should remove it immediately, but you must tell your doctor if you’ve been using one. Likewise, tell them if you have recently suffered a burn or skin injury, or if you have a skin infection such as a boil. If they suspect TSS you should be referred to hospital immediately”.

If TSS is confirmed you’ll be admitted to hospital and may need to be treated in an intensive care unit. Treatment may involve:

  • antibiotics to treat the infection
  • in some cases, pooled immunoglobulin (purified antibodies taken out of donated blood from many people) may also be given to fight the infection
  • oxygen to help with breathing
  • fluids to help prevent dehydration and organ damage
  • medication to help control blood pressure
  • dialysis if the kidneys stop functioning
  • in severe cases, surgery to remove any dead tissue. It may be necessary to amputate an affected area but this is very rare.

Commenting on the treatment, Kate said: “Most people will start to feel better within a few days once treatment starts, but it may be several weeks before they’re well enough to leave hospital. It’s worth remembering that you don’t develop immunity to TSS so you can get it more than once, but isn’t spread from person to person”.

TSS is caused by either Staphylococcus or Streptococcus bacteria which live harmlessly on the skin or in the nose or mouth. However, if they get deeper into the body they can release toxins that damage tissue and stop organs working. You could be at an increased risk of developing TSS if you:

  • use tampons, particularly if you leave them in for longer than recommended or use “super-absorbent” tampons
  • use female barrier contraceptives, such as a contraceptive diaphragm or cap
  • break your skin, such as a cut, burn, boil, insect bite or surgical wound
  • give birth
  • use nasal packing to treat a nosebleed
  • have a staphylococcal infection or streptococcal infection such as a throat infection, impetigo or cellulitis.

When you’re aware of the risks that can lead to a TSS diagnosis, there are things you can do to minimise the possibility of contracting it:

  • treat wounds and burns quickly and get medical advice if you develop signs of an infection, such as swelling, redness or increasing pain
  • always use a tampon with the lowest absorbency suitable for your menstrual flow
  • alternate tampons with a sanitary towel or panty liners during your period
  • wash your hands before and after inserting a tampon
  • change tampons regularly, as often as directed on the pack (usually at least every four to eight hours)
  • never insert more than one tampon at a time
  • if you’re using a tampon at night, insert a fresh tampon before going to bed and remove it on waking
  • remove a tampon at the end of your period
  • if you’re using female barrier contraception, follow the manufacturer’s instructions about how long you can leave it in place
  • avoid using tampons or female barrier contraception if you’ve had TSS before.

Kate Campbell-Gunn is an Associate Solicitor in the Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence team at the Wilkes Partnership who has dealt with claims involving delayed diagnosis of TSS and secured settlements for her clients for the failure to detect TSS in a timely manner. If you have been affected by any of the issues discussed here, contact Kate on 0121 733 4314 or at kcampbell-gunn@wilkes.co.uk for a free, no obligation chat about your options. Kate works on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis. She can assess a possible claim early on to ascertain if there are prospects of success in a potential TSS claim.

The work environment has received a seismic blow as the UK and the rest of the world have grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic. The political measures put in place to deal with the pandemic have had a dramatic effect on the economy and the employment landscape. Jas Dubb, an Associate solicitor in the Employment Team at The Wilkes Partnership, looks at one aspect of fallout from Covid-19: employment tribunal claims are on the rise.

Jas says: “Data recently published for the Employment Tribunal Service (ETS) gives us an insight into how the economy has reacted over the past year. The figures show that claims to the ETS rose to above pre COVID-19 levels, suggesting this is due to an increase in unemployment and changes to working conditions and practices during the pandemic”.

Quarterly figures

The HM Courts and Tribunal Services has released its quarter three figures (Q3) for the period October to December 2020, which includes figures for the ETS.

The statistics are grouped and measured using the following:

  • Single Claims: track claims which have been registered and cite only one judicial complaint
  • Multiple Claims: track claims that have multiple judicial claims and/or multiple claims against the same employer.
Type of claim Claims registered in Q3 2020 % increase from Q3 2019
Single Claims 13,200 claims received 25% increase
Multiple Claims 29,000 claims received 82% increase

Jas continues “This snapshot of where we are today in respect of the Q3 statistics compared to the same time in 2019 shows a significant increase in claims in both Single and Multiple Claims. Although the figures in respect of Multiple Claims may seem alarming at first glance, they should be kept in perspective. Multiple Claims often deal with multiple claims being registered against one single employer, which means that the figures tend to be skewed”.

What the figures reveal

Unsurprisingly, the figures show that there has been a significant increase in the number of claims being registered with the ETS which has had a knock-on effect on the number of claims in the system waiting to be disposed of. The current outstanding caseload for Single Claims is at its highest level, surpassing the peak seen in 2009/10. It currently stands at 44,000 outstanding cases, which means the outstanding caseload for Single Cases rose by approximately 36%.

Even with an increased caseload it is encouraging to see that the ETS has processed 14,000 claims in Q3, which is up by 24% in the same period in 2019. This influx of claims has, however, resulted in an increase in the average time for disposing of claims. For Single Claims, disposal time has increased by 12 weeks to an average of 48 weeks, while disposal for Multiple Claims has seen an increase of 80 weeks to an average of 229 weeks.

Predictions

Jas concludes “With the extension of the furlough scheme to September 2021, it is expected that claims will level off in the immediate to short term. However, the predictions are that the economy will have to undergo some level of correction with the likelihood of increased unemployment, resulting in another increase in claims to the ETS.”

If you are in receipt of an employment tribunal claim, or you are thinking of making a claim against your ex-employer, the Employment Team at Wilkes have the depth of knowledge and experience you need to tackle the situation.

Contact Jas Dubb in the Employment team at The Wilkes Partnership on 0121 710 5929 or at jdubb@wilkes.co.uk for expert legal advice and practical guidance on defending or making an employment claim.

Making a will may seem like a daunting task, but it is essential. Your will directs how your estate will be distributed after your death which gives you an element of control over who benefits, who doesn’t and, to some degree, how your life is remembered. The absence of a valid Will resulted in a dispute which was heard recently by the High Court which clearly demonstrated: making a will is essential, maintaining it is crucial.

Like many married couples, Alan and Margaret made mirror wills appointing each other as sole executor and beneficiary of their respective estates. Sadly, the couple died within months of each other in 2019, leaving no children. Their wills made no provision for what should happen to their estate if their spouse had already died, so the High Court had to step in to make a decision on how those estates should be distributed.

It is easy to understand how the situation arose. Margaret died of cancer in February 2019 and Alan, unfortunately, followed unexpectedly in May that year. Intending to make a new will after his wife’s death, Alan had visited his solicitor but had not executed the document.

Under these circumstances, the law of intestacy came into play meaning that only the family of the person who died last would benefit. Alan’s entire estate, including inheritance from his late wife’s estate, was distributed to his next of kin: his brother, sister, and nephews. As Margaret died first, her family received nothing.

This case clearly illustrates two things:

  • a will should be a comprehensive document that addresses various eventualities
  • a will is a fluid document. It should reflect your circumstances so maintaining it is crucial.

Ellie Holland leads the Wilkes Partnership’s Private Client team from the Solihull office and has extensive experience across a range of inheritance issues including mitigating inheritance tax and financial planning. Ellie’s advice is simple “It is important to consider reviewing your will on a regular basis. Our lives change often, in terms of finances, family, friends, or tax position, so a will should reflect those changes”.

A professionally drafted will often makes provision for a main or sole beneficiary but, should that beneficiary pre-decease you, it is worth considering whether the inheritance that they would have received is ‘diverted’ to another beneficiary of your choosing. As Alan and Margaret’s case shows, leaving your estate to be administered according to the rules of intestacy may not be in line with your wishes.

Dying intestate (without making a will) can lead to a variety of issues including unnecessary inheritance tax liabilities or disputes between family and friends. Tax or fees resulting from a dispute could be costly to the estate meaning that not making a will could actually be a false economy. It could also mean that minors (18 years of age) inherit, whereas leaving a will would allow you to set a more suitable age for that inheritance.

In conclusion, Ellie said “Having a will drafted by a professional may be less expensive than you think. A properly drafted will can mitigate the level of inheritance tax applied to your estate, and it gives you the peace of mind that comes of knowing that your affairs will be properly taken care of after your death. Making a will is essential, maintaining it is crucial”.

If you are considering making a will or need advice on any inheritance or financial planning matters, contact Ellie Holland at the Wilkes Partnership on 0121 733 8000 or at eholland@wilkes.co.uk.

Now that schools have reopened, parents everywhere will be breathing a sigh of relief as we, hopefully, move towards some sort of normality. Naturally, there is some uncertainty around the impact that reopening schools could have on the rate of infection, so we may not be out of the woods yet. The vaccine rollout is progressing at an impressive pace but evidence may yet direct a return to self-isolating and, in turn, home schooling as a result of school closures. Hopefully, such moves would be temporary if they were to happen but, for the time being at least, this additional burden, may not be over yet – particularly for women. Sarah Begley asks if extending the furlough scheme will help working mums as schools reopen?

A recent survey by the TUC suggests that mums have been shouldering the majority of childcare duties during lockdown. Of the 50,000 women who took part, more than 70% of working mothers who had asked to be furloughed for childcare reasons since schools closed said they had been refused.

Of those surveyed, a staggering 90% of working mothers indicated that they had seen their anxiety and stress levels increase during the latest lockdown, and almost half (48%) were worried about being treated negatively by their employers because of childcare responsibilities.

Sarah Begley, Solicitor in the Employment team at The Wilkes Partnership comments, “During the Budget announced on 3rd March 2021, the Chancellor confirmed that the furlough scheme will be extended to the end of September. Employers will contribute 10% of the employee’s salary from July, rising to 20% for August and September. However, there will be no changes to the scheme from the worker’s side, and the eligibility criteria remains unchanged.”

Under the scheme rules, employees can be furloughed with 80% of their wages covered by the government (to a maximum of £2,500 a month) if they are:

  • clinically extremely vulnerable
  • caring for someone vulnerable
  • caring for children who are at home as a result of school and childcare facilities closing.

Sarah continues “There appears to be a widespread lack of awareness among workers that they can ask to be furloughed for childcare reasons. Two in five mothers said they were unaware that the scheme was available to parents affected by school or nursery closures”.

“Flexible furlough”, as the name suggests, allows furlough on a part-time basis. If an employer supports such a request, this option means families could choose to share caring responsibilities. Ultimately, the decision to furlough rests with the employer, and there are instances where a role is just not suitable for this to happen.

Sarah concludes “We are still navigating uncertain times so the extension of the furlough scheme should be welcomed, and encouraged, in appropriate circumstances”.

If you have any questions about the furlough scheme or flexible working, contact Sarah Begley, Solicitor in the Employment team at The Wilkes Partnership on 0121 73 4312 or at sbegley@wilkes.co.uk.

 

 

The Childcare team at Carvers Law are specialists in matters relating to children. Concerns can be raised about a child’s welfare for a variety of reasons but, when Children’s Services do become involved, the skill and experience offered by the Carvers team guides clients through what can be some very challenging times. Even during a pandemic, a child’s welfare is paramount.

Families can find themselves struggling for any number of reasons, even under less trying circumstances than we have all experienced over the last 12 to 18 months. For many, tensions between parents or underlying relationship issues, mental health concerns, substance or alcohol abuse, or managing a child’s behaviour have become even more significant in day-to-day life. Casting an already struggling family unit into a long-term period of enforced ‘closeness’ has served only to exacerbate matters, while adding a lack of personal space or ‘me time’ to a reduced support network of family and friends, sees those problems intensify even further.

But it’s not just emotional and psychological issues that many families are facing. By sharing his own very personal experience of a childhood where food was often in short supply, professional footballer Marcus Rashford has demonstrated that many families are living in poverty and relying on schools to provide one proper meal a day for their children.

During the pandemic many support services have had to change the way they work while we have all lived under quite restrictive guidelines to slow the spread of the virus. The result has been frustration for many when it has been difficult to access face-to-face medical appointments, support for mental health issues, substance or alcohol misuse, or domestic abuse. Social workers have continued to operate as front line key workers throughout the pandemic but, unfortunately, the additional oversight provided by school staff and other professionals has not always been available. Many families have slipped under the radar, or will, in terms of oversight and support.

For families whose children are in the care of a local authority, reduced contact between parents and children has been a very damaging effect of the pandemic. Contact centres across the Midlands have had to meet safety guidelines set by Public Health England and, as a result, local authorities have not been able to offer as many contact sessions; many families are missing out on vital time with loved ones.

Despite Covid-19, the Carvers Law Childcare team wants to offer this reassurance to any parent, child, grandparent or other family member who finds themselves involved with Children’s Services: we are still here to offer advice, support and guidance.

Throughout the pandemic we have had to make changes to the way we deliver our service to parents and families, but the high level of quality of that service has remained unaffected. We can attend meetings with you and represent you in court proceedings, and we are happy to discuss the availability of Legal Aid for your matter.

If the issues raised here have given you cause for concern about the welfare of a child in your family, contact Ruth Harrison-Bryne on 0121 784 8484 or at rharrison-byrne@carverslaw.co.uk

Dual qualified Solicitor and German Rechtsanwältin with The Wilkes Partnership’s Corporate Team, Elisabeth Conner, has advised the uvex sports group on an international deal to secure 75% of the share capital of bicycle and outdoor security supplier HIPLOK.

The uvex sports group, which specialises in helmets and eyewear for skiing, cycling and riding enthusiasts, was keen to strengthen its position in those markets by acquiring an established supplier of complementary products to extend its offering.

Elisabeth said of working with the uvex sports group “The transaction presented the challenges you would expect of an international deal but the uvex sports group and Hiplok teams were fully prepared and helped us to deliver an outcome that satisfied both parties”.

Both uvex sports group, based in Germany, and Hiplok, based in the UK, have a global trading presence. The acquisition will allow Hiplok to accelerate its growth plans by making use of the uvex sports group’s distribution network and existing organisational structure its new strategic partner already has in place.

Commenting on another successful deal completion by his team, Gareth O’Hara, Senior Partner in the Corporate Team at The Wilkes Partnership, said “International and cross-border matters are Elisabeth’s speciality. Her unique skillset and experience in European, especially German, matters meant that the uvex sports group had an expert in their corner who could guide the transaction to a timely and satisfactory conclusion.”

Gareth went on to say “I was also very pleased to see that Leighann Richards of our Real Estate Team provided support regarding property matters that arose on the deal. Again, this has demonstrated the naturally collaborative approach to advising clients that is part of Wilkes’ DNA.”

Speaking on behalf of the uvex group, Georg Höfler said “This transaction will expand the uvex group’s portfolio of brands. Hiplok’s products and their reputation for quality aligns closely with our own; we are looking forward to the new opportunities this deal will afford for both parties.”

If you are involved in, or planning, a transaction that will cross international borders, contact Elisabeth Conner in The Wilkes Partnership’s Corporate Team on 0121 710 5897 or at econner@wilkes.co.uk. Elisabeth was supported in this transaction by Owen Shave, a Solicitor in the same team, and Leighann Richards, Associate Solicitor in their Real Estate Team.

 

 

 Jeremy Parkin, Partner in the Corporate Team at The Wilkes Partnership, has advised the owners of long-term client Nationwide Property Assistance Ltd (NPA24:7) on its sale to Davies, a leading professional services and technology business with a global footprint.

The deal will see NPA24:7 become part of Davies’ existing Claims Solutions business in the UK. Managing Director Nick Haycock will continue to lead NPA24:7 as part of the Davies structure, and all 190 NPA24:7 employees will also continue in their roles.

Nick’s journey with NPA24:7 began as a buyout from Homeserve some seven years ago when Jeremy Parkin provided legal advice and Paul Heaven, Director at Jerroms Corporate Finance, provided the financial expertise. Since then, Jeremy and Paul have continued as NPA24:7’s advisers, helping to bring about a successful exit. On this occasion Jeremy was assisted by Owen Shave, also of the Corporate Team at The Wilkes Partnership, and Leighann Richards of the Real Estate Team.

Nick said “I would like to thank Jeremy Parkin and his team at Wilkes for helping us to facilitate the deal and getting us over the line. They helped us to acquire from a plc in 2014 and have been there for us whenever we have needed advice and guidance over the last few years, culminating in the successful completion of the deal on 2nd March 2021. Thanks to Jeremy and his team for all their efforts!”

Over the years Jeremy and Paul have worked closely on matters for a number of clients. The working relationship and complementary services they have developed provide a framework for clients to successfully develop and ultimately exit their businesses.

Seeing NPA24:7 through its lifecycle is a proud achievement for Jeremy “The Wilkes Corporate Team and I are delighted to have been able to support and advise Nick through this journey. He has been able to secure a strong future for the business the NPA24:7 team has worked hard to grow since taking it over from Homeserve. The Davies team has welcomed team NPA24:7 into the family and are keen to develop the new service for their clients.”

On behalf of Jerroms Corporate Finance, Paul Heaven said “It’s always a thrill to get a deal over the line. Our history with Nick and NPA24:7 makes this one even more special. Here’s to continued success for NPA24:7 as it begins a new chapter as part of Davies”.

If you are considering exiting or acquiring a business, Jeremy and his team are keen to speak to you. A transaction like this can take time and patience so you need trusted advisers by your side who will guide you safely through the deal. Contact Jeremy on 0121 710 5931 or at jparkin@wilkes.couk

 

 

As the spring bulbs start to push through and the success of the vaccination programme offers us glimmers of hope for a brighter future, some sort of stability and routine is just visible on the horizon. For many exhausted, working parents that all begins to take shape when their children return to school on 8 March 2021.

The effects of a year of lockdowns combined with home-schooling and working from home are starting to become clear. A recent ONS Study, using data collected from England, Scotland and Wales, shone a light on the effect that home-schooling has had on wellbeing. An average of 50% of parents report an impact on their mental health, compared with 28% during the first lockdown in 2020. It has also been well documented that the demands of home-schooling have often fallen firmly on one parent. Even when both parents are working from home, 67% of women in, a heterosexual partnership, say they feel disproportionately affected.

Sian Kenkre, family lawyer at The Wilkes Partnership comments, “We usually see a peak in requests for family law advice in September after the long school holidays, and then again after Christmas. This pattern extended as we noticed a sharp increase in enquiries at the end of the first lockdown in 2020”.

Many of those enquiries came from women saying that the effects of the lockdown had brought problems in relationships and domestic arrangements into sharp focus. Under ‘normal’ circumstances these issues may have gone unnoticed as so much time is spent separately; different working routines, time away from the home, but the latest data suggests that this will continue to be a theme in the breakdown of relationships.

With the impact on mental health after an extended period of isolation, worries about job security, finances, and uncertainty about the future, it is not surprising that family lawyers expect to see another surge in divorce enquiries as the restrictions are gradually eased.

The effects of the pandemic on mental health and relationships could be described as the perfect storm. In times of economic uncertainty we know that relationships suffer. Sian continues “I have spoken to many clients during the lockdown period who are struggling to cope with the uncertainties created by the pandemic. Some feel trapped and are worrying about a separation while still cohabiting.

The decision to end a marriage or relationship is deeply personal and, in many cases, a time of great anxiety and sadness. My best advice is to find a lawyer you feel comfortable with. Taking early, practical advice from them to alleviate some of the stress will help you plan for the future”.

Finally, Sian said “Taking initial advice does not mean that you have to follow through with a divorce or separation. It does mean that you are well informed which can help to clarify some of the uncertainties that may be adding to stress levels. A good family lawyer will listen to your concerns, talk you through all of your options, and provide you with clear costs information so that in times of such uncertainty you can have some clarity.”

If any of this feels familiar and you do have questions about divorce or a relationship breakdown, contact Sian  on 0121 733 4316 or at skenkre@wilkes.co.uk.

Statistics from Q4 2020 indicate that retailers have faced significant hardships as a result of the nationwide lockdowns which were introduced to help supress the spread of Covid-19. As footfall plummeted and shopping habits shifted significantly towards safer online options, retailers have struggled to survive.

News reports have shown that it hasn’t just been smaller, independent retailers who have suffered; well-established names have also succumbed as the implications of lockdown became apparent. As our high streets begin to emerge from lockdown over the coming months, some key names will be missing: department store Debenhams will be a significant loss to many shopping districts, as will outlets under the Arcadia Group brands such as Top Shop, Top Man and Miss Selfridge.

Like the Arcadia Group, Debenhams entered into administration when faced with no other alternative. There was a glimmer of hope when Boohoo Group, the online retailer, bought elements of the Debenhams business from its administrators but, for the high street, that hope was short lived. The deal with Boohoo included only the Debenhams brand assets and website operations, meaning its high street presence would be committed to the history books as it makes the move to an online only operation. The ups and downs of the business over recent years had been well reported but few would have predicted such an outcome, certainly at such a pace, before the Covid-19 crisis erupted.

To see them through the uncharted territory of a pandemic, many smaller retailer businesses are likely to have made use of government backed schemes. The Bounce Back Loan Scheme (“BBLS”) and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (“CBILS”) were introduced to provide financial support to businesses which were adversely affected by the impact of the virus. In the form of term loans, overdrafts and the like, businesses could borrow up to £50,000 under the BBLS, while larger figures of up to £5 million were available under the CBILS.

Both schemes have proved incredibly popular, but it is widely expected that they will play a key role in many insolvency cases over the coming months. Recent press reports mention that HMRC sent a first batch of 24,000 letters last year, followed by a second batch of 11,000 letters, to businesses seeking confirmation that they were eligible for such assistance. Recipient businesses had 21 days to respond; failing to do so would see them barred from applying for future support.

By restricting the presentation of winding up petitions and suspending statutory demands to ease creditor pressure, the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 is one reason that an increase in the number of insolvency cases has not materialised. However, the protection afforded many businesses by this act comes to an end on 31 March 2021. This deadline has been extended and may be extended again, but once the suspension is lifted it is expected that a large backlog of petitions will develop driving more businesses along a similar path to that taken by Debenhams and the Arcadia Group.

At the end of March 2021, businesses will have to account for VAT receipts between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020. However, following the introduction of the new VAT deferral payment scheme, businesses are no longer required to pay the deferred VAT in full on or before 31 March 2021, but can pay their deferred VAT in equal instalments, interest free.

Finally any businesses considering formal restructuring options such as administration in the hope that stakeholders will be able to repurchase the business free of existing debts will soon have their options significantly reduced. The draft Administration (Restrictions on Disposal etc. to Connected Persons) Regulations 2021 are due to come into force on 30th April 2021 and will prevent the sale of all, or a substantial part of, a company’s business and assets to connected parties without the consent of the creditors or an independent written opinion. This hot topic will form the basis of a separate publication but, for now, directors need to understand that their options are increasingly more limited.

The Business Recovery Team at The Wilkes Partnership represents decades of experience in the rescue or restructure of businesses. If your business used either the BBLS or CBILS schemes and you now have questions about what happens next, or if the pandemic has raised significant financial challenges for your business, contact David Cleary or John Cooper on 0121 233 4333 or email them at dcleary@wilkes.co.uk or jcooper@wilkes.co.uk.