A first gazette notice is a public declaration by Companies House that they intend to start the compulsory strike off process against a company. This is usually due to a breach of regulations like not filing annual accounts or confirmation statements. It is a serious warning and should not be ignored. If a company is struck off the Companies House register it effectively ceases to exist as a legal entity and any assets owned by the company will be forfeited.
Depending on how severe the breaches were that led to the notice being published, the Directors of the company may be able to stop this process by addressing first gazette notices the issue that caused the initial notification from Companies House. This could be as simple as bringing statutory submissions up-to-date or as complex as proving that there is no financial reason to close down the company.
It is possible for creditors and other parties that have a stake in the company or are owed money to oppose the compulsory strike off by submitting a challenge to Companies House. This is done by submitting evidence to prove that the closure would be unfair or disproportionate in the circumstances. Creditors often take this route if they are owed debts by the company in question. HMRC also regularly monitor the gazette and block closures if they are in the process of recouping tax debt.
One example of this was when the first gazette notice was issued to MAL Sports Investments Limited in 2020, the company set up by Mike Ashley to buy Newcastle United football club. This company was struck off in March 2021 after a deal to buy the club fell through.
The other reason to challenge a notice is that it was issued by Companies House without due process or consideration of all available options. This can be particularly damaging to small businesses and new business owners. If you are receiving a first gazette notice, it is important to take immediate action to address the issue that has prompted the notification and avoid being struck off from the Companies House register.
Whether you are receiving the first gazete for a compulsory strike off or simply want to wind up your company it is important to speak to a licensed insolvency practitioner as soon as possible. Depending on the scale of the assets involved you may be able to achieve a better outcome by entering into either a Members’ Voluntary Liquidation (MVL) or Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation. In both cases, an insolvency practitioner will be required to act as the liquidator. A licensed insolvency practitioner can ensure that the process is conducted in line with the law and the best interests of all stakeholders. They will also be able to advise on the most appropriate type of liquidation for your company in light of its situation and the assets it holds. This will be dependent on many factors including the type of assets in your company, any liabilities and how much you wish to recoup from the liquidation.