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Which Creditors Are Paid First in a Liquidation?

Which creditors are paid first in a liquidation? If a company is getting shut down forever legally, it means the process of liquidation. So, who will be paid first in this process? Read this guide to the list of 6 parties that’ll be paid first.


An insolvent liquidation procedure includes selling assets and the distribution of the proceeds to the company’s creditors. An insolvency practitioner licensed (IP) is assigned to manage the process. It ensures on-time payment to creditors in accordance with the order we see in the Insolvency Act, 1986.

The sequence in which those who are creditors to an insolvent firm are compensated is contingent on the category of creditors. Creditors are classified according to the type of debt a company owes. This ranking determines the priority on which creditor will receive the payments first.

What Exactly Is the Liquidation of an Enterprise?

If the business is insolvent, liquidators simply sell the company’s assets to pay off debts. The remaining surplus goes to shareholders of the company.

It has to be able to satisfy certain conditions to begin this process as an organisation. Also, the Adjudicating Authority should accept it. This is why the Adjudicating Authority (AA) liquidation order in the following instances:

  • If the resolution program for resolution is not received by the deadline, it will be deemed as a failure to comply
  • If the National Court of Adjudicating Authority (NCLT) simply refuses to accept the resolution plan for a variety of reasons
  • The Committee of Creditors (CoC) allows the corporate debtor to liquidate
  • When the resolution plan doesn’t compile with the corporation’s debtor

Firstly, the adjudicating authority will approve the proceedings of the liquidation order. Later, a resolution professional for the specific corporate insolvency process will play the role of a liquidator.

Be aware that an Adjudicating Authority can replace the resolution expert appointed at any time as per the IBC (Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code). In essence, the liquidator qualifies as per the IBC code and will fill the role until the completion of the process of liquidation.

Which Creditors Are First Paid When a Business Is Insolvent?

The term “preferential” refers to a person who holds the status of a preferential creditor during an insolvent liquidation in order to be entitled to the first payment. This rule is present in the Insolvency Act 1986.

A formal ‘hierarchy’ set in the Insolvency Act 1986 decides which class of creditors gets the first payment in an insolvent liquidation. In case a company is liquidated, the creditors of each class are required to be paid in full before the funds are allocated to the next class of creditors.

The procedure for a company’s insolvency is:

  • Secured creditor
  • The liquidation’s expenses
  • Preferential creditor
  • Creditors of ordinary credit
  • Interest on preferred debts and ordinary debts
  • Members of the company

In the coming sections, we’ll look at each category in more detail and discuss which types of debts belong to the category.

Secured Creditor

The most prominent of these are the secured creditors. They have a legal right over an asset. They are the first ones to receive the debt.      

For instance, the bank is entitled to any property assets when a company takes a loan for an industrial warehouse. If the company goes under Liquidation, the liquidator has to make sure that the bank receives the assets.

Liquidation Expenses

The liquidators devote significant time to managing each liquidation and receive compensation for their expertise and knowledge. The company’s creditors should agree with the fees before the beginning of insolvency.

The costs of liquidation rank over other debts to ensure a smart and knowledgeable person managing the process. This results in maximizing the amount of money that other creditors get.

Preferential Creditors

Priority creditors are business employees who are due holiday or wage payments. Employees who are entitled to payments as a substitute for notice or redundancy payment are not considered preferred creditors.

Instead, they are classified as the unsecured creditors of the company. If there aren’t enough funds from the sale of assets to cover the employee’s claims, the remaining balance will be paid by the government’s Redundancy Payments Fund up to certain levels.

Creditors With Ordinary Names

The ordinary debts, or those owed to creditors of ordinary standing, comprise the majority of debts that aren’t preferred or secured debt. This typically includes individuals and companies like contractors, suppliers, HMRC and specific staff claims.


As liquidations typically include struggling businesses it’s likely that they have outstanding preferential and normal loans that have followed interest charges.

If there’s any cash left after the liquidator pays the secured creditor, liquidation expenses, preferential creditors, and liquidation fees, they could pay interest on the loans.

Shareholders and members of the company

After settling all creditors, the liquidator can begin distributing funds to the company’s members. What company members are first depends on variables such as specific shareholdings, corporate rights, and shareholdings. Shareholders will also be the last group to receive payment. Directors often need to provide personal guarantee agreements. This is typically the case for smaller companies and newer ones for bank financing and leases on the property. 

The creditor must file a claim first against the company. However, there is no reason to stop them from pursuing personal guarantees in addition. The business shareholders, also called shareholders, are last in the prioritization ranking.

There are a variety of classes of shareholders. Generally speaking, they are people who have donated cash to companies, though they could be corporations too. Shareholders have made this risky decision. It means they aren’t eligible for repayment until all the above creditors receive their payments.

All shareholders are most at risk of losing their capital. This is why it’s normal for investors to transform a portion of their equity into secured debt in order to ensure they’re paid in case the company fails.

If the creditor gets repaid in accordance with the agreement, the guarantor (the person who made the guarantee) could step in their place and take this money return from the company within the same category. The creditor won’t get the money twice.


Conditions and complexity can help you understand the difficulties when it comes to liquidation to close down the company’s activities. After the completion of the liquidation process, the particular business will cease to exist according to the law.

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