• What is Receivership? 
  • Causes of Receivership 
  • Duration of a Receivership 
  • How a Company is Affected During Receivership 
  • The Roles and Responsibilities of a Director 
  • The Role of a Receiver 
  • How Receivership Impacts Creditors
  • Impact of Receivership on Employee Entitlements 
  • Conclusion of Receivership 

What is Receivership? 

Receivership is a legal process used by secured creditors to recover debts from a debtor business without forcing it into liquidation. This process involves appointing an independent Receiver who takes comprehensive control over the company’s assets, debts, and operational activities. The primary role of the Receiver is to manage the business effectively to repay the secured creditor, either in part or in full. 

Receivership is generally seen as a preferable alternative to liquidation for many businesses because it allows the business to remain operational, which can result in better returns for secured creditors. This method preserves the value of the business and maintains its operational integrity, providing a potential win win scenario for both the business and its creditors. 

Causes of Receivership 

Receivership occurs primarily when a company cannot meet its financial obligations to secured creditors, or when it fails to cover its operating expenses. This financial distress triggers the appointment of a Receiver, either by a creditor directly or through a court order. Here are the main factors that lead to receivership: 

  • Default on Loan Repayments: When a company fails to meet the repayment terms agreed upon with secured lenders, it may lead to the initiation of receivership to recover the owed funds. 
  • Failure in Business Management: Significant mismanagement within the company, whether in financial control or overall business operations, can prompt creditors to intervene by appointing a Receiver. 
  • Director and Shareholder Disputes: Conflicts among key stakeholders like directors and shareholders that disrupt the company’s operations might necessitate receivership to stabilise governance and resolve ongoing issues. 
  • Continuous Operational Losses: Persistent financial losses with no sign of recovery can lead the company into receivership as a strategy to manage and possibly curtail further financial decline. 
  • Poor Trading Performance: If a company consistently fails to improve its market performance and profitability, stakeholders might consider receivership as a remedy. 
  • Inadequate Management Skills: Lack of necessary management skills to navigate through financial difficulties may also be a cause for the appointment of a Receiver. 

In any of these situations, secured creditors, as well as other parties such as shareholders, directors, or investors, might seek court intervention to appoint a Receiver. The Receiver’s role is then to manage the company effectively to either recover the debt or bring the company back to a stable financial condition. 

Smiling lawyer, realtor or financial advisor handshaking young couple thanking for advice.

Duration of a Receivership 

The length of a receivership can vary significantly depending on the specific circumstances of the business and the complexity of its assets. There is no predetermined duration for a receivership; it could be as brief as a few months or extend over several years. 

The process typically concludes when the Receiver has successfully sold enough of the company’s property to cover the debts owed to the secured creditor responsible for their appointment. The Receiver’s primary obligation is to the creditor who appointed them, but they must also ensure that the assets or the business itself are sold at a market value that is reasonable. 

If the Receiver encounters challenges in selling the assets at a fair market value or if other complications arise during the administration process, the receivership might be prolonged. This extended period is often necessary to adequately address and resolve any issues that could impact the optimal recovery of the creditor’s investment. 

How a Company is Affected During Receivership

Receivership substantially alters the control and management of a company. While the company retains its legal status as a separate entity, its control over assets managed by the Receiver is relinquished.  

The Receiver takes charge of collecting and selling these assets, often continuing the business operations to maximise asset value and facilitate debt repayment. This process continues until the company is either liquidated or the debt to the secured creditor is fully repaid, concluding the receivership. 

The Roles and Responsibilities of a Director 

During receivership, the scope of directors’ powers is limited to assets not covered by the Receiver’s appointment. If the Receiver is appointed over all assets of the company, directors technically maintain their titles but lose their executive powers over company management. Their role transitions primarily to compliance and support, where they are required to cooperate with the Receiver. 

One of the key legal obligations for directors during this period involves the submission of a Report on Company Activities and Property (ROCAP) to the Receiver within ten business days after receiving the notice of the Receiver’s appointment.  

The ROCAP must accurately detail the company’s assets and liabilities. Failure to comply with this requirement can lead to legal consequences for the directors, emphasising the importance of maintaining transparency and diligence in fulfilling statutory duties during receivership. 

This structured shift in control and responsibility aims to protect the interests of the secured creditors while ensuring that the company’s affairs are handled transparently and efficiently, potentially leading to a recovery or orderly wind down of the business. 

Smiling lawyer, realtor or financial advisor handshaking young couple thanking for advice.

The Role of a Receiver 

Receivership involves a registered professional, known as a Receiver, who is tasked with managing the receivership process impartially. The primary duty of the Receiver is to safeguard the interests of the secured creditor who appointed them. 

The statutory powers of a receiver are outined in section 420 of the Corporations Act 2001. The central responsibility of the Receiver is to gather and liquidate the company’s assets to settle the debts owed to the secured creditor. This involves taking control of the company to assess the financial status of the debtor and make critical decisions regarding: 

  • Asset Management: Identifying which properties of the debtor can be used to settle their debts. 
  • Asset Disposition: Deciding how these properties will be handled or sold. 
  • Income Utilisation: Determining any available income of the debtor that can be used to repay debts. 
  • Debt Settlement Agreement: Crafting an agreement that outlines the terms for discharging the company’s debts. 
  • Agreement Terms: Establishing the conditions under which the agreement will be effective, including any circumstances that might lead to its termination. 
  • Debt Release: Detailing the extent to which the debtor is relieved from their obligations once the agreement is fulfilled. 
  • Investigation of Past Transactions: Deciding if the Registered Trustee should investigate historical transactions. 
  • Trustee Appointment: Nominating a Registered Trustee to oversee the agreement’s administration. 

Receivership concludes when the Receiver has successfully liquidated sufficient assets to cover the debts owed to the secured creditor and has fulfilled all responsibilities and liabilities associated with the receivership.  

Once all duties are completed, the Receiver either resigns or is discharged by the secured creditor. If no other external administrator is involved, control of the company and its remaining assets reverts to the company directors. 

How Receivership Impacts Creditors

Primary Focus on Secured Creditors

In receivership, the Receiver’s responsibilities are primarily directed towards the secured creditor who appointed them. The Receiver’s main task is to recover the amount owed to this secured creditor by managing and liquidating the company’s assets.  

This singular focus means that the Receiver does not have an obligation to pay dividends or provide detailed reports to unsecured creditors, which differentiates receivership from other insolvency proceedings such as liquidation or voluntary administration. 

Limited Obligations to Unsecured Creditors

Unsecured creditors do not receive the same level of attention or protection in a receivership as they might in other insolvency processes. The Receiver is not required to safeguard the interests of unsecured creditors, and these creditors may find themselves without direct recourse through the receivership process to recover their debts. 

Legal Actions by Creditors

Despite the limited focus on their interests within the receivership process, unsecured creditors still retain the right to pursue legal actions against the company. They can apply to the court to recover their debts or assert claims if there are expectations that assets or funds will be available after the receivership concludes. 

Contractual Rights and Obligations

Contracts between the company and its creditors are not automatically terminated upon the appointment of a Receiver. If the contract includes a clause that triggers termination upon receivership, creditors may act on this right.  

Otherwise, the receiver might choose to enforce or disregard existing creditor contracts. If a contract is not enforced, the company may default, leaving creditors with potential breach of contract claims. 

Possibility of Enforcement Actions

Unlike scenarios in liquidation or voluntary administration, creditors in a receivership setting can initiate or continue with enforcement actions, including actions aimed at winding up the company. This aspect underscores a significant difference in how creditors can interact with a company under receivership compared to other insolvency frameworks. 

Smiling lawyer, realtor or financial advisor handshaking young couple thanking for advice.

Impact of Receivership on Employee Entitlements 

Priority of Employee Payments

In receivership, employees of the company may have certain financial protections. If the Receiver opts to continue operating the business, there is a prioritised scheme for handling employee entitlements before addressing the claims of secured creditors. This is particularly relevant when the Receiver is actively managing the business and generating revenue through asset sales. 

Order of Entitlement Distribution

Employee entitlements are allocated in a specific sequence, ensuring that the most immediate forms of compensation are addressed first. The distribution follows this order: 

  • Outstanding leave entitlements, including annual and sick leave 
  • Retrenchment pay, which covers severance or redundancy payments 

Each category must be fully satisfied before moving on to the next, ensuring a structured and fair approach to fulfilling employee claims. 

Pro Rata Payments

In situations where the proceeds from asset sales are insufficient to cover all the entitlements, the available funds are distributed on a pro rata basis among the employees within the same category. If the funds do not cover a complete category, subsequent categories may receive no payment at all.  

This method reflects the priority given to each type of entitlement and ensures that available resources are distributed as equitably as possible among employees. 

Seeking Advice

Employees affected by their companys receivership should proactively engage with the Receiver to understand their specific entitlements and the status of their payments. The Receiver can provide detailed information and guidance regarding the expected outcomes for employee claims during the receivership process. 

Conclusion of Receivership 

The process of receivership concludes when the obligations to the secured creditor are fully satisfied, either through the complete repayment of the debt or by realising all available assets. At this stage, the Receiver takes formal steps to finalise the administrative responsibilities. 

Notification and Retirement of the Receiver

The Receiver notifies the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) that the receivership process has been completed. This official communication is essential for updating the public record and marking the end of the receivership. 

Transition of Control

Subsequently, the Receiver officially retires from their role. This retirement is typically formalised through the execution of a Deed of Resignation. Following the Receiver’s resignation, control of the company reverts back to the directors, provided no other external administrators are involved.  

This transition marks the restoration of the company’s autonomy to its original governance structure, allowing the directors to resume management under the company’s standard operational framework. 

This article is general information only and does not provide advice to address your personal circumstances. To make an informed decision you should contact an appropriately qualified professional.