Case study – the covid ate the estate agent’s homework?

Dog ate my homework

DC Partners (Solutions) Pty Ltd working with a financier client recently had collections dealing with an estate agent where the agent alleged it could not pay ‘factored monies’ because of Covid-19.

In December 2019, the agent factored its rent-roll management cheque for March 2020, expecting to receive around $52,000.

Factoring is the business of purchasing accounts receivables.

In this instance, the estate agent ‘sold’ its March 2020 receivable in exchange for an upfront sum paid in December 2019.

At the end of March 2020, the agent then said it was unable to repay the factor the money (or any of it, despite banking it for themselves at the end of March) “because of Covid-19“.

Factoring ‘discounts’ the purchase price of the receivable. The price paid upfront in December 2019, was based upon the time value of money with the expectations that the funds would be banked in March 2020. Obviously, the funds do not have the same value if the funds are not banked until June or later.

The agent is a well known agent from WA.

If a crime was committed, it was a crime of fraudulent appropriation. Alternatively, as was pointed out to the agent in collections discussions, the agent runs the very real risk that the estate agent continues to trade whilst insolvent, exposing the directors to personal liability. In those instances the agent’s personal assets are exposed to creditors.

If your business is in a similar position, being unable to meet obligations to creditors, there are some important steps that you and your company need to take to protect your personal AND business assets. These can be discussed on 1300-327123 if you find yourself if this position (call anytime till late 5 days).

What is a liquidator?

What is a liquidator

A liquidator is a person appointed, in the winding up of a corporation, to assume control of the company’s affairs and to discharge its liabilities in preparation for its dissolution.  The appointment of a liquidator may be done voluntarily (by the proprietors) or via the courts (usually upon the application of a creditor – very often the ATO using a creditors statutory demand).

The process of the liquidator conducting the affairs of the company and realising its assets is called liquidation.

The liquidator’s role is to ascertain the liabilities (and assets) of the company, convert its assets into money, terminate its contracts, dispose of its business, distribute the net assets to creditors and any surplus (which is rare) to the shareholders and/or proprietors.

The liquidator will extinguish the company, lawfully, as a corporation on the records of ASIC by formal dissolution.

In determining the assets of a company, it is the liquidator’s duty to determine whether particular assets under the company’s control are owned by the company or others – i.e. stock may be purchased subject to a retention of title, vehicles may be on a corporate hire purchase and secured via a PPSR.

BAP can assist company directors to structure their assets and affairs, if not insolvent, in such a fashion to provide lawful asset protection.  To discuss how we can help to structure your company’s affairs and assets to provide maximum asset protection, please click here to book an appointment, call 1300-327123 (1300-DCP123), or complete the below form.

ATO kills huge liquor business overnight … 

We’ve been researching the circumstances of a once highly successful liquor manufacturing business, with a huge client base – domestically as well as around the world.

This business had grown and prospered for more than 50 years until this year.  This hard work was all undone overnight when it was wound-up by an aggressive ATO.

Our research indicates some or all of the situation could have been avoided with more thoughtful structuring and asset protection arrangements.

The business was wound up, more or less overnight, by the ATO.

50 years of hard work bought undone overnight.

Business Asset Protection, applying the research this case has uncovered, is offering free business structuring health checks for companies – particularly in high tax sectors such as liquor, with slow paying wholesale customers or those experiencing growing inventory levels.

To arrange a free structuring health check call now on 1300-327123 or complete the below form.

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What is insolvency?

Insolvency in general terms, as it relates to a corporation, is the inability to pay debts as and when they become payable.

A company is also insolvent if it is experiencing an ‘endemic shortage of working capital’ as opposed to a temporary lack of liquidity.

Determining the difference at a point in time during the corporation’s life is a question for a court to determine .

Indicators of insolvency include:

  • continuing losses,
  • no access to alternative finance,
  • the inability to raise further equity,
  • special arrangements with selected creditors,
  • solicitors’ letters or judgments issued against the company,
  • overdue taxes,
  • failure to keep books and records, etc.

The list is indicative and not exhaustive.

Companies experiencing any or all the above indicators should book a free consultation by clicking here then where we’ll provide you with company specific advice re insolvency in your instance.  Alternatively call us on 1300-327123 (till late) or complete the form below.

What is a creditors statutory demand?

The Corporations Act 2001 (“the Act”) provides for the conducting of business by a corporation in Australia.

Section 459E of the Act provides that a corporation may be served a statutory demand by a creditor (i.e. a creditor’s statutory demand) relating to (subsection 1):

                     (a)  a single debt that the company owes to the person, that is due and payable and whose amount is at least the statutory minimum; or

                     (b)  2 or more debts that the company owes to the person, that are due and payable and whose amounts total at least the statutory minimum.

Once served with such a demand, a company cannot ignore the demand.  The most serious of possible consequences for the company are now rolling out.  There are no friendly rules or casual arrangements, strict compliance with the demand is necessary by law.

Requirements

There are further other requirements such as:

             (2)  The demand:

                     (a)  if it relates to a single debt–must specify the debt and its amount; and

                     (b)  if it relates to 2 or more debts–must specify the total of the amounts of the debts; and

                     (c)  must require the company to pay the amount of the debt, or the total of the amounts of the debts, or to secure or compound for that amount or total to the creditor’s reasonable satisfaction, within 21 days after the demand is served on the company; and

                     (d)  must be in writing; and

                     (e)  must be in the prescribed form (if any); and

                      (f)  must be signed by or on behalf of the creditor.

             (3)  Unless the debt, or each of the debts, is a judgment debt, the demand must be accompanied by an affidavit that:

                     (a)  verifies that the debt, or the total of the amounts of the debts, is due and payable by the company; and

                     (b)  complies with the rules.

The key words above in each of the subsections are the words Must and AND.

The above requirements of the Act’s provisions are cumulative.  Skip any of the requirements and the consequences for the creditor’s demand is that it is potentially defective.

What happens next

Once a creditor’s statutory demand has been served upon a company, several things can happen:

  1. the recipient company pays the debt in full
  2. the company contacts the creditor and they negotiate a settlement
  3. the company applies to have the demand set aside – for instance if there has been a genuine disputing of the debt.
  4. the company does not respond, and the creditor applies to have it wound up

Next steps

If your company has received a creditor’s statutory demand, you have no time to waste.  Go straight to our “what to do next blog for further next steps – click here to book a consultation.

Call anytime on 1300-327123.

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Good debt practices

There are a number of healthy things a company can do in the conduct of its affairs.  Some obvious, some not so obvious.

Below is a short checklist of good practice suggestions (in no particular order).

Checklist

 

  1. Not incur debts in the first instance.
  2. Checking invoices and ATO tax office statements carefully – ensuring there are no additional, unapproved items.  Particularly in relation to taxation matters, it is critical that you check these thoroughly!
  3. Disputing unapproved items quickly.  Ideally in writing.  Particularly concerning alleged taxation debts, directors tend to do the opposite.  And, a director under pressure already, often fails to fully read a tax notice of assessment.  (Sometimes they are just plain depressing).  A director must resist the urge to bury the document and should immediately dispute any tax ruling or assessment that they believe is incorrect.  Failing to dispute assessments can have huge consequences later when and if a creditor’s statutory demand has been issued – options become vastly more limited.
  4. Putting everything in writing.  i.e. using email particularly when entering contractual arrangements.  This can provide an important record of the exact agreement.
  5. Confirming discussions in writing by email after discussing things with the other party.  i.e. if one side has made concessions about the debt, the time when due or payable or similar, send an email immediately afterwards confirming what was discussed.  It’s much easier to remember at the time than 2 months later.
  6. Keeping documents and records.  Ideally electronically in an inbox.
  7. Backing up and saving documents and records.  There are many good free or low-cost cloud solutions for storing emails and documents.

If your company needs help arranging its file, contract and legal documentation, or if your company needs to dispute a tax notice of assessment or director’s penalty notice call us for a free consultation or request a quote.

 

Call anytime on 1300-327123.

To view related blogs, follow the following category links and tags below.