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If a company stops trading or goes out of business

This advice applies to England

You might end up without the item you paid for or with unfinished work if a company or trader stops trading or goes out of business. There are several ways to try to get your money back or get the work done. However, there’s no guarantee you’ll get what you paid for.

If you’ve purchased through a sole trader

A sole trader (someone who runs their own business) or partnership that stops trading is responsible for work or items that have been paid for.

Call the company, visit their office or shop, or write to them to find out what’s happening. Explain what you’ve paid for and ask for the item you bought or a refund.

If you can’t reach the company

If you can’t get hold of a company or want to confirm that they’ve gone out of business (also called going bankrupt or going into administration or receivership), search for their name on:

  • the Companies House website if they’re a limited company (with the letters ‘Ltd’ or ‘Plc’ after their name)
  • the Insolvency Register if they’re an individual (a sole trader) or a partnership - search both the name of the person and their trading name

It can take a few weeks for information to appear on these websites.

If you booked a holiday

You can look for details of travel companies that have gone out of business on ABTA’s website. 

If your holiday booking is protected by ATOL, you should also check the list of ATOL protected travel companies that have gone out of business on the CAA website.

If you can’t find details of the company you booked with, you can contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline.

If the company has gone out of business

Get details of the administrator or receiver - the person who is dealing with settling the trader’s debts. The names of those administrators will usually be on the website of the company that’s gone bust. You’ll need this information if you need to make a claim.

Dealing with a company that's gone out of business

When you know for certain that a company has gone out of business and you haven’t got what you paid for, you can try to get money back by:

If you’ve registered a claim

When you register a claim as a creditor, you’re added to a list of all the people the company owes money to. Other people, for example banks, will get paid first, so you might not get anything.

If you’ve already got the item but it’s faulty, you can try to:

  • use the guarantee or warranty which came with the item to get repairs or a replacement
  • ask the administrator to get repairs or a replacement - there’s a small chance they’ll be able to help

If you’re dealing with a company that stops trading

When a limited company stops trading, you can’t go to court. If it’s been bought by another company, try explaining what’s happened to the new owners.

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