Kevin McLeod
Written By Kevin McLeod
Licensed Insolvency Practitioner
November 15th, 2023

A winding up petition is a way by which an unpaid creditor can petition the courts to force an insolvent company into compulsory liquidation.

Any creditor who is owed more than £750 can present a winding up petition to the courts.

After you have received a winding up petition, the courts will hold a hearing to establish if the company is truly insolvent and cannot pay its debts. If the company is deemed insolvent, the court will issue a winding up order and will appoint an Official Receiver to liquidate the insolvent company.

Winding Up Petition
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What is a Winding up Petition?

A winding up petition is a formal legal tool used by creditors against a company that owes them money and is unable to pay its debts. It’s a crucial step in the process of compulsory liquidation, where a company is forced to stop its operations and liquidate its assets to pay off debts.

When a creditor issues a winding up petition, they are essentially requesting the court to forcibly close the company. For a petition to be valid, the debtor company must owe at least £750.

Upon receiving a winding up petition, the court sets a hearing to determine the company’s solvency. If the court finds the company insolvent, it will issue a winding up order. This order appoints an Official Receiver (or sometimes an Insolvency Practitioner) to oversee the liquidation process. The appointed receiver’s role is to sell the company’s assets and distribute the proceeds to creditors.

How do I Stop a Winding up Petition?

The answer to this question very much depends on how long has elapsed since the winding up petition has been issued.

The rule of thumb is that the faster you take action, the better chance you will have of stopping the petition from being advertised in The Gazette and/or proceeding to the court hearing. You should seek professional advice as soon as you receive a winding up petition to help you work out your next steps.

  1. Consult a Professional: Immediately seek advice from an insolvency practitioner or solicitor.
  2. Review the Debt: Confirm the accuracy and legitimacy of the debt.
  3. Negotiate with the Creditor: Attempt to reach an agreement for debt repayment or settlement.
  4. Pay the Debt: If possible, pay the owed amount promptly to invalidate the petition.
  5. Apply to the Court: If there are disputes or grounds, apply to the court to dismiss or stay the petition.
  6. Act Quickly: The sooner you act, the better your chances of preventing the petition’s advertisement and court hearing.


In short, a winding up petition starts the process that will end with the termination of the company if left unchallenged. It’s the first step in a compulsory liquidation of the company, where a liquidator will realise the company’s assets and distribute the proceeds to the company’s creditors.

Bank Accounts will be Frozen

In addition to the serious consequences, compulsory liquidation is a very public process – it will be a matter of public knowledge that the company’s creditors have forced it into liquidation. Additionally, once the petition has been advertised, the banks are likely to freeze the company’s bank accounts, effectively stopping it from trading from that date.

Who can Issue a Winding Up Petition or Order?

Any creditor who is owed more than £750 can issue a winding up petition. They should have given the company plenty of opportunity to pay the outstanding debt, and the petition will have been preceded by a Statutory Demand or a court order. The creditor must wait 21 days after issuing the Statutory Demand before they are allowed to issue a winding up petition.

HMRC issue the most winding up petitions each year, but any creditor who’s owed more than £750 is entitled to do so.

Only a judge can rule the petition become a Winding up Order.

How Long Does a Winding up Petition Take?

Once you have received the petition, you have just 7 days to act.

If you have received one of these you need to act immediately, or risk your company being forced into liquidation. Call us now, or use the live chat at the bottom of the site, to receive immediate advice about your situation.

What Happens if a Winding up Petition is Granted?

The winding up petition is the legal notice that the creditors file with the courts requesting that they have a hearing to establish whether the debtor company is insolvent. The winding up petition can be said to start the compulsory liquidation process. As discussed above, it is still possible to halt the compulsory liquidation process once a winding up petition has been issued.

The Petition Becomes a Winding up Order

By contrast, the winding up order is the order made by the courts after the court hearing. The order signals the moment that the company goes into liquidation and will also appoint an Official Receiver to act as liquidator. Winding up orders can’t be reversed except in very, very limited circumstances – once the order has been made, the company will almost certainly be wound up.

How Long Does it Take to Issue a Winding up Petition?

Filing a winding up petition is usually done with the assistance of a solicitor. The actual filing is relatively swift and will depend on the efficiency of your legal team. Waiting for the actual hearing will take a little longer.

Once the correct paperwork has been submitted to the Court, both parties will receive notification of the Winding up Petition court hearing date. The law requires the petition be advertised in the Gazette at least seven days after the petition is served on the company and at least seven days before the hearing, so the wait will be a minimum of 2 weeks, but likely longer.

Who can File a Petition for Winding Up?

The following can petition for the compulsory winding up of a company:

  • the company,
  • the directors,
  • any creditor or creditors,
  • a contributory or contributories, the clerk of a magistrates’ court in the exercise of the power conferred by section 87A of the Magistrates Court Act 1980 (enforcement of fines imposed on companies),
  • the official receiver,
  • the Secretary of State,
  • an administrative receiver or administrator,
  • the supervisor of a composition or arrangement
  • the Attorney General (in the case of a charitable company

What is the Winding up Process?

The Petition is issued, served, advertised in the Gazette, then heard at Court. If the Judge rules that the Petition is credible, he/she will approve it and a Winding up Order is made.

What Happens After a Winding up Order is Granted?

Following the Winding up Order, the compulsory liquidation of the company begins. Initially, the Official Receiver will be the liquidator by default, though the company can choose its own Insolvency Practitioner to replace this if it wishes.

We Can Help

If you’ve received a winding up petition or are facing creditors threatening to issue a winding up petition, we can help. Call us on 0208 444 2000 to discuss or email