Lisa HoggView Profile
When your business is facing or going through liquidation, there is a lot to think about. One thing which is usually forgotten is your online presence and how to deal with it, during the course of the liquidation procedure.
Your website and social media presence are classed as assets by an insolvency practitioner (IP) and therefore it will be treated like any other business asset that needs to be liquidated. It may be intangible, but it may be worth a lot of money to the right person. The strength of the site, the connections you have through it (your network), the brand name attached to it, the volumes of traffic to your site and whether it is a sales/e-commerce site or not. All these factors determine the overall value of your website.
But not all websites hold a value and many owners will want to remove all traces of their websites and social media from the internet. If the liquidator thinks that there is a value attached, here are some pointers and tips for dealing with the situation.
You should always make sure you follow the liquidator’s instructions and if your website is an asset, he will probably want you to do two things:
Leave your website open
Leaving your site to lay dormant, or continue updating it, if agreed with your liquidator, can keep the value in your asset. You will have to confirm and/or wait for instruction from the liquidator, but he has to do whatever is best for the asset, to help obtain the best return for creditors on sale.
Revoke access to the website and social media
As soon as you realise that you may need to enter into a liquidation procedure, you should revoke access to the online social media accounts from anyone bar directors and the liquidator. If you outsource your website and social media management, you should inform them of your current situation.
If you have an in-house team, it is a good idea to stop them from managing and performing updates. Unfortunately, at this point you will probably be aware that their jobs are likely to be made redundant. They may be able to be saved but ultimately it is dependent on whether the business can be saved. Until this has been discussed, you should have control of your business’ online presence.
Make the necessary announcements on your website and social media
In some circumstances, making announcements of updates surrounding your company (eg to quell rumours) and outlining what is happening, will be well appreciated by customers and clients. In other cases it may be better to say nothing, if the business is still able to trade (for example through a CVA) and keep “business as normal”.,
If it is common knowledge that your business is facing issues customers, current and potential, will thank you for the updates especially if you manage to save the company through CVA, pre-pack administration or pre-pack liquidation. However, you should check that making an announcement is ok with your liquidator before doing this.
If the business is being closed down, leaving your site to lay dormant could confuse visitors who will wonder what is going on. Plus, you may still receive incoming enquiries and business offers. By announcing your business closure, it will remove the burden of dealing with enquiries from yourself and your liquidator.
If you can keep the website live – create a landing page
A landing page is a static web page that people see when they click on to your website. It is like posting a sign in your shop window keeping everybody informed. It also enables the business to continue receiving further online orders.
Keeping your network informed
As mentioned above, keeping clients and customers informed is very important and you should update social media and blogs, dependent on liquidator approval. Your employees, investors, suppliers and shareholders will also need to be kept up to date with procedures, but there will be official updates through announcements in the Gazette or via your liquidator.
If the website is deemed redundant
If it is not worth any money, then you will need to take action to close down the website and stop any potential malicious postings by disgruntled staff/creditors.
Firstly, revoke employee access to your website before making them redundant. That way you know that you will have no problems with staff when it comes to controlling websites/social media.
Then you should close your accounts from your website to every social media account you own. Also check web history for any mentions of you or your company and if you want to or you are advised to have these removed, get in touch with the relevant person to deal with this.
Be aware that some employees may take the news badly and use their position to smear the company or directors online. These instances are rare and employers have tried to curb this by writing clauses, covering internet and social media usage in contracts. However, it can be difficult to act on this unless you have the funds to personally fund the case
It is one of those areas that not many people in business seem to think about during liquidation proceedings and there are a few grey areas. However, it is important that you, and your liquidator, come up with a plan of how to handle your online presence as soon as possible
How we can help
If you think your business might be ready to go through an insolvency procedure, but are unsure about the procedure and how to deal with your online presence, then we can help give the advice needed. We have eight licensed insolvency practitioners, who can make the difference and using their experience ensure you stick to the right regulations.