Adley Gray Logo

Creditor Fraud Solicitors

Being charged with creditor fraud can have very serious consequences for both your professional and personal life. Penalties include a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a fine.

If you or your company are the subject of a creditor fraud investigation, it is highly recommended that you seek legal advice from a solicitor experienced in creditor fraud law, as soon as possible. This way, your solicitor can advise and guide you through the process and work with you from the start to build a strong defence for your case.

What is creditor fraud?

Creditor fraud, also known as fraudulent trading, occurs when a business is carried on with the intent of defrauding creditors.

What does the law say about creditor fraud?

Creditor fraud (or fraudulent trading) is a criminal offence in England and Wales.

The offence is detailed in section 993 of the Companies Act 2006. This states that:

“If any business of a company is carried on with intent to defraud creditors of the company or creditors of any other person, or for any fraudulent purpose, every person who is knowingly a party to the carrying on of the business in that manner commits an offence.”

This offence can be committed whether or not the company is being (or has been) wound up.

What are examples of creditor fraud?

Sometimes, businesses which are in trouble will continue to draw on credit accounts when they should have closed down their operations.

In other instances, businesses are set up with the sole intent to defraud. Typically, these businesses will purchase products which they can immediately sell and then disappear altogether. Initially, they may have set up credit accounts which they maintained, in order to appear trustworthy. This is known as ‘long firm fraud’.

On other occasions, businesses may simply purchase as much as they can on credit, sell the goods and then disappear, without building trust first with creditors. This is known as ‘short firm fraud’.

Who will be held responsible for creditor fraud?

Every person who is knowingly a party to the carrying on of the business fraudulently would be charged. Usually, it is those in managerial positions who are most likely to be charged with creditor fraud. However, those in more junior positions could find themselves charged with aiding and abetting creditor fraud.

Those accused of creditor fraud could be company directors who were attempting to save the business and made some questionable decisions and errors in judgement. Sometimes, those managing the company may not even have been aware of the financial state of the business and the fact that it could not pay its creditors.

It is only when the decisions were made dishonestly that a person can be found guilty of creditor fraud.

In a creditor fraud case, it is the jury who will decide whether or not you acted dishonestly.

What is the sentence for creditor fraud?

A person found guilty of the offence of creditor fraud (also known as fraudulent trading), could be given a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. They may also receive a fine.

The maximum sentence for creditor fraud is only given when a large amount of money is involved and the offending is both blatant and reckless.

How does the court decide on the sentence for creditor fraud?

The court will first assess the level of culpability of the offender, followed by the level of harm, in order to determine a starting point sentence for a particular creditor fraud case.

Factors which could indicate high culpability include:

  • The offender had a leading role (when a group of people was involved)
  • The offender pressured others to become involved
  • The offence required significant planning
  • The offender had abused their position of trust
  • There was a large number of victims
  • The creditor fraud took place over a sustained period of time

Factors which could indicate medium culpability include:

  • The offender had a significant role (when a group of people was involved)
  • Factors in the high and lesser culpability categories are present, which balance each other out.

Factors which could indicate lesser culpability include:

  • The offender was involved through intimidation or coercion
  • The offender played a peripheral role
  • The offender was not motivated by personal gain
  • It was a ‘one-off’ offence which required little or no planning

The court will then assess the level of harm, taking into account the intended, risked or actual loss suffered.

Risked loss is less serious than intended or actual loss and as such, where the offence caused a risk of loss and no actual loss (or much less actual loss), the court would normally move down to the corresponding point in the next category.

The harm categories for intended or caused loss are as follows:

Category 1: £500,000 or more (starting point based on £1 million)
Category 2: £100,000 – £500,000 or Risk of category 1 harm (starting point based on £300,000)
Category 3: £20,000 – £100,000 or Risk of category 2 harm (starting point based on £50,000)
Category 4: £5,000 – £20,000 or Risk of category 3 harm (starting point based on £12,500)
Category 5: Less than £5,000 or Risk of category 4 harm (starting point based on £2,500)

After the court has assessed the harm and culpability categories for a particular defendant, it will then reach a starting point sentence. The higher the culpability and harm categories, the more likely a long prison sentence will be appropriate.

What are the mitigating factors for creditor fraud?

Mitigating factors are aspects of a case which could result in a lesser sentence.

In creditor fraud cases, these include:

  • The defendant shows remorse
  • The defendant does not have any pervious convictions
  • The defendant cooperated with the investigation

It is also possible to reduce a sentence for creditor fraud by pleading guilty.

Why do I need specialist creditor fraud solicitors?

Solicitors experienced in creditor fraud have the necessary knowledge and expertise to make a real difference to the outcome of your case.

If you have been accused of creditor fraud, it is vital that you seek legal advice from specialist creditor fraud solicitors, as quickly as possible.


Get in touch with us today to discuss how
we can help you solve your problem.

Get In Touch

Get in touch