Edmonds Judd


What are the differences?

It’s been a challenging time for many businesses since the pandemic hit our shores. If you find your company in financial difficulty, you may be forced to make some difficult decisions.

This may involve receivership, voluntary administration or liquidations – but what are the differences?



Receivership occurs where a receiver (typically a licensed insolvency practitioner who may also be a chartered accountant) is appointed to deal with secured assets or manage the business of a company for the benefit of the secured creditors.


A receiver can be appointed by a court order or by a secured creditor under the terms of a deed or agreement, under which a contractual right to appoint a receiver has been granted by the company (or any other entity).


The specific powers of a receiver include the right to demand and recover income of the property in receivership, issue receipts, manage property and inspect any documents relating to the property. The receiver may also have additional rights in the deed or agreement under which it has been appointed.


The receiver’s primary duty is to try and bring about a situation in which debts are repaid, and the company’s property is managed – not for the benefit of the company, but for the secured creditors. To do so, a receiver will collect and sell one or more secured assets on behalf of a secured creditor, and manage other preferential claims against the company. The directors of a company in receivership have restricted powers. They must co-operate with the receiver so that the financial affairs of the business can be resolved fairly and equitably. Directors must provide company accounts, records and other information required by the receiver.


Voluntary administration

Voluntary administration is an option aimed at giving a business the opportunity to survive and avoid liquidation. An administrator can sometimes save a failing business; administrators are generally appointed by the company directors to deal with all a company’s creditors and its affairs.


In considering whether voluntary administration is an option for the company, directors must weigh up whether it has the support of creditors, and whether creditors are likely to gain more financial benefit from the company avoiding liquidation and continuing to trade.


Other considerations include the extent of the company’s debt, the attitudes of suppliers, its history with creditors and the availability of cash flow.



In receivership and administration situations, there is a chance a business can be saved and return to normal trading. Liquidation, however, is the end of the road.


Previously known as ‘winding up’, liquidation can be voluntary or compulsory. The main reason a company will face compulsory liquidation is if it is unable to pay its debts and it is insolvent. A voluntary liquidation can be used if the shareholders want to cease trading.


A liquidator’s principal duty is to preserve and protect the company’s assets to enable distribution to its creditors and, in a solvent liquidation, its shareholders.


Liquidators will recover what they can and distribute the proceeds to a company’s preferential, secured and unsecured creditors and, in a solvent liquidation, to its shareholders. Although the liquidator has control of the assets, the company keeps ownership of them and holds the assets on trust for the creditors. When the liquidation is complete the company is removed  from the Companies Register.


Ask for guidance

When your business is facing financial strife, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. We recommend you contact us for guidance to support you through the process.



DISCLAIMER: All the information published in Fineprint is true and accurate to the best of the authors’ knowledge. It should not be a substitute for legal advice. No liability is assumed by the authors or publisher for losses suffered by any person or organisation relying directly or indirectly on this newsletter. Views expressed are those of individual authors, and do not necessarily reflect the view of Edmonds Judd. Articles appearing in Fineprint may be reproduced with prior approval from the editor and credit given to the source.
Copyright, NZ LAW Limited, 2022.     Editor: Adrienne Olsen.       E-mail: [email protected].       Ph: 029 286 3650