Free Independant Advice

Specialist Insolvency Practitioners

What is the order of creditors in liquidation?

Get in Touch Today to Speak to a Specialist Adviser

Overview of Liquidation

An important part of business is its financial health. If debts outweigh assets, liquidation may be needed. This involves selling assets to pay creditors. But, what’s the order of creditors in liquidation?


  1. 1st Charge Holders: First priority secured creditors, usually banks or financial institutions with legal rights over certain assets.
  2. 2nd Charge Holders: Second priority secured creditors, also with legal rights over certain assets.
  3. Government: A preferred creditor with special powers to collect tax and national insurance debts.
  4. Employees: Wages owed in the previous four months are paid first, followed by redundancy payments up to £800 ($1100) and unpaid holidays up to six weeks worth.
  5. Unsecured Creditors: Remaining funds go to unsecured creditors such as suppliers or trade creditors who have no security or preferential status.

Also, it should be noted that shareholders rank last in the payment order.

Every case of liquidation is unique. The value and type of assets being sold affects how much money is distributed amongst creditors. For example, Carillion, a UK-based construction company, collapsed in 2018 with debts exceeding £2bn ($2.7bn). The government stepped in to cover some of the costs, but small businesses who went unpaid had little recourse for their losses. This shows how important it is to know creditor priorities in cases of insolvency.

The Order of Creditors in Liquidation

The liquidation process can be overwhelming, especially for creditors of the company being liquidated. The order of creditors in liquidation determines which creditors get paid first, and in what order. Here is a breakdown of the different types of creditors and the order in which they are paid.

Creditors Priority
Secured creditors First priority
Preferential creditors Second priority
Unsecured creditors Third priority
Shareholders Last priority

It’s important to note that secured creditors have first priority and are paid before any other creditors. Preferential creditors, such as employees and landlords, have second priority and are paid after secured creditors. Unsecured creditors, including suppliers and contractors, have third priority and are paid after preferential creditors. Shareholders are the last priority and are only paid after all other creditors have been paid in full.

It’s important to act quickly as a creditor in a liquidation case to ensure that you are not left with an unpaid debt. Don’t wait until it’s too late to take action. Contact a professional insolvency practitioner for expert advice and guidance on how to protect your interests. Failure to act could result in missing out on your rightful payment.

Secured creditors prefer their assets safe and sound, even if it means playing hard to get in the liquidation game.

Secured Creditors

Secured creditors have a legal right over a debtor’s specific assets. They get paid from these assets before unsecured creditors. A table is important to note, with columns for creditor, security over assets, estimated value, and distribution priority.

HSBC Bank has property, fixed & floating charge security, valued at £500,000, and takes priority in distribution. Barclays Bank has stock as collateral, valued at £300,000, and takes second priority. Small Business Administration has personal & equipment guarantee security, valued at £100,000, and takes third priority.

It’s essential to document & register any security interest with authorities to make sure secured lenders are recognised with priority claim to their collateral in liquidation. Remember: having collateral for a loan is a sign of financial responsibility.

Definition of Secured Creditors

Secured creditors are creditors who have a security interest in the debtor’s assets. This gives them priority over unsecured creditors if liquidation occurs. These interests may be a mortgage or lien on certain property.

In liquidation, secured creditors get first priority of proceeds from the sale of the assets they have an interest in. This is because they have taken steps to secure their investment e.g. through taking security over certain assets. They also have greater legal protections and better recovery rates than unsecured creditors.

The timing of when a creditor takes security over assets can affect their priority. For example, a second mortgage lender may be subordinate to a first mortgage lender based on when each party registered their security interest.

The Bankruptcy Act of 1793 was an important law created by the British government. It gave insolvent debtors the chance to declare bankruptcy, rather than being sent to prison. This law brought about many of today’s legal concepts surrounding creditor rights.

When dealing with repaying debts in liquidation, secured creditors are like VIPs – getting the best of the buffet first.

Priority of Secured Creditors

Secured creditors are granted priority in liquidation over unsecured creditors. Payment order is rigidly followed. The priority is given to Fixed Charge Holders. They receive proceeds from the sale of assets secured by a fixed charge. Then, Floating Charge Holders. When a company goes into liquidation, the floating charge becomes a fixed charge, so the floating charge holder is prioritized. Thirdly, Preferential Creditors (limited to certain debts). Tax liabilities and wages due to employees are some examples. Lastly, Unsecured Creditors. Each class ranks in order of seniority, with Class I having highest priority.

Preferential creditors are the special ones – they get preference in bankruptcy. This has been the case since Roman Republic in 326 BC, when the Lex Poetelia Papiria was enacted, and Salic law in medieval Europe. Currently, the Insolvency Act 1986 regulates creditor priority in England and Wales.

Preferential Creditors

Preferential creditors are those with a higher rank in insolvency proceedings. They have more right to receive their debts than ordinary unsecured creditors.

A Table for preferential creditors shows the types of debt, the creditor, and the amount. Wages and salaries, accrued holiday pay, and pension contributions due in the previous four months are included. Plus, statutory notice pay and redundancy payments must be paid off first.

Shareholders with 5% or more shares get reduced dividends before the payment of any other unsecured debts. This means they rank above ordinary unsecured creditors, but after preferential creditors.

GOV.UK says that preferential claims take priority over other debts during liquidation. Preferential creditors are like VIPs, getting first dibs on the leftovers.

Definition of Preferential Creditors

Preferential creditors have “statutory status” which gives them priority over ordinary unsecured creditors during liquidation. They are entitled to specific rights in the distribution of a company’s assets.

A table shows the types of preferential creditors and their priority levels for distribution:

Preferential Creditors Priority Level
Employees’ wages and salaries First
Holiday pay, sick pay, pensions contributions and compensation payments owed. Second

Other preferential creditors include:

This preferential creditor status can be disadvantageous to other unsecured creditors financially. They can only claim for dividends after preferential debts have been paid.

The UK government plans to reform preferential creditor status soon. HM Revenue & Customs will be a secondary preferential creditor for certain tax debts from December 1st, 2020.

It’s a financial Hunger Games out there – preferential creditors enjoy priority, while other unsecured creditors often suffer.

Hierarchy of Preferential Creditors

Preferential Creditors: Priority List!

When it comes to liquidation, some creditors are more important than others. A hierarchy is set up to decide who gets paid first. Here’s the list:

Creditor Priority Ranking
Employees 1
Crown (including tax authorities) 2
Preferential creditors under insolvency law 3
Floating charge holders 4
Unsecured non-preferential creditors 5

Employees and the Crown are at the top! Then come preferential creditors like those owed wages or pension contributions. Floating charge holders come after that. Lastly, unsecured non-preferential creditors get the least priority.

It’s worth noting that preferential creditor status changes according to legal regulations. Before 2003, financial institutions had preferential status in terms of debts owed by failed companies.

Examples of Preferential Creditors

Preferential creditors come first in the repayment line during liquidation. For example, employees, the Crown, and redundancy payments! Laws vary by country, like in the UK, which has three primary categories. It’s important to identify who falls into this category and allocate funds. Unsecured creditors? Not so secure.

Unsecured Creditors

Unsecured creditors, also known as general creditors, are companies or individuals who have lent money without any collateral – making them vulnerable to not getting anything back in a liquidation process.

After secured and preferential creditors are paid off, any remaining funds go to unsecured creditors.

Although there is a higher risk for them, unsecured creditors can still file a claim with the liquidator. The amount they get depends on factors like the amount owed and the total assets available for distribution.

To increase the chances of recovering funds, unsecured creditors should keep an eye on the liquidation process. They should stay informed and provide relevant information.

Businesses need to think carefully about who they lend money to. If someone is in debt collection or insolvency, they need to stay on top of all legal proceedings to reduce risk associated with unsecured debt.

Definition of Unsecured Creditors

Unsecured creditors are those who lend money, provide services or goods without any security interest or collateral. They rank lower than secured creditors and have no guarantee of getting their money back if a company goes bankrupt. Unsecured creditors include suppliers, customers, employees, tax authorities, and bondholders.

It is essential for unsecured creditors to understand their legal position if liquidation occurs. They are divided into four groups depending on their power to claim assets during liquidation – preferential creditors, ordinary unsecured creditors, subordinated debt holders and equity shareholders.

Preferential creditors are first in line for payment but they only comprise a few parties such as employees owed wages. After that, ordinary unsecured creditors may receive some of the remaining assets and funds recovered through bankruptcy proceedings. Subordinated debt holders rank even lower than ordinary unsecured creditors while equity shareholders get last priority.

For instance, the Granada Group auction in 1991 earned over £40 million, but less than £1 million was available for unsecured contractors because the group fell under ordinary borrower ranking in liquidation procedures.

Priority of Unsecured Creditors

Unsecured creditors must adhere to a certain order of priority when liquidation occurs. This list is showcased in a table, with the 1st Priority given to Employees (for wages, overtime and holiday pay, up to £800 for the four months prior).

Tax and VAT Authorities are next in line, then Banks/Lenders with Security Interests, followed by Ordinary Unsecured Creditors (customers/suppliers).

If two or more creditors rank similarly at any level, they get equal treatment.
Knowing the priority levels is important for anyone lending money or offering credit, as it may help them avoid missed payments or losses. Looks like those unsecured creditors will have to rely on their good looks to get paid!

Examples of Unsecured Creditors

Unsecured creditors are those without security for their dues. They rank last and have lower priority than secured creditors like mortgage debtors and financial institutions.

To understand better, let’s look at examples of unsecured creditors vs. other types:

Creditor Prioritisation
Suppliers Last priority
Tax authorities Higher than suppliers
Employees (wages) Higher than tax authorities

It’s important to know: if the debtor can’t pay back all debts, unsecured creditors would be pro-rated according to available funds for each category.

Secured creditors get repayment from the sold asset value. Unsecured creditors only get payment from leftover assets after paying off higher ranking loans.

Take XYZ company: they couldn’t pay their liabilities and went into liquidation. Unsecured lenders faced severe risk as there were no assets left once secured lenders and tax authorities were paid off. None of the unsecured lenders got any payment.

Looks like the only order in liquidation is the order in which creditors can grab what’s left of the pie… Bon appétit!


In the event of liquidation, creditors get paid in a certain order. Banks with mortgages and lenders with security over assets are the first to be paid. Then come preferential creditors like employees owed wages and tax debts. Unsecured creditors are last and usually don’t get anything.

Security may not cover all assets, so some lenders may be partially unsecured. Also, certain contracts may make unsecured creditors preferential.

Investors can use this hierarchy to see how risky an investment is. If there are mostly unsecured debtors, returns may be low or there may even be losses.

Get In Touch With Our Team

We Aim To Reply To All Enquiries With-in 24-Hours