Issue date: 1 April 2021

1/. Introduction

The insolvency legislation was changed in October 2015, with one or two exceptions, for insolvency appointments made from that time onwards. This policy text explains how we intend to apply the alternative fee bases allowed by the new legislation when acting as office holder in insolvency appointments. The legislation allows different fee bases to be used for different tasks within the same appointment. The fee basis, or combination of bases, set for a particular appointment is/are subject to approval, generally by a committee if one is appointed by the creditors, failing which by the creditors in the general meeting, or by the court.

Further information about creditors’ rights can be obtained by visiting the creditors’ information microsite published by the Association of Business Recovery Professionals (R3) at https://www.creditorinsolvencyguide.co.uk/. Details about how an office holder’s fees may be approved for each case type are available in a series of guides issued with Statement of Insolvency Practice 9 (SIP 9) and can be accessed at https://www.r3.org.uk/technical-library/england-wales/sips/more/29125/page/1/sip-9-payments-to-insolvency-office-holders-and-their-associates.

Alternatively, a hard copy may be requested from Carrie James of SKSi, Unit 1, First Floor, Brook Business Centre, Cowley Mill Road, Uxbridge, UB8 2FX. Please note that we have provided further details in this policy document.

Once the basis of the office holder’s remuneration has been approved, a periodic report will be provided to any committee members and also to each creditor. The report will provide a breakdown of the remuneration drawn. If approval has been obtained for remuneration on a time costs basis, i.e. in reference to time properly spent by SKSi practice members of staff at our standard charge-out rates, the time incurred will also be disclosed, whether drawn or not, together with the average (or ‘blended’) rates of such costs. Under the legislation, any such report must disclose how creditors can seek further information and challenge the basis on which the fees are calculated and the level of fees drawn in the period of the report. Once the time to challenge the office holder’s remuneration for the period reported on has elapsed, then that remuneration cannot subsequently be challenged.

Time Cost Basis

When charging fees on a time costs basis, we use charge-out rates appropriate to the skills and experience of the member of staff in question and the work that they perform. This is combined with the amount of time that they work on each case, recorded in six-minute units, with supporting narrative to explain the work undertaken.

Charge-out Rates

Grade of staff Current charge-out rate per hour, effective from 15 January 2021
Director (Appointment Taker) £425-500
Associate Director £400 
Senior Manager  £350
Manager  £310
Senior Administrator  £275
Administrator  £150
Assistants & Support Staff  £100

Offshore Team Charge-out Rates

Grade of staff Current charge-out rate per hour, effective from 15 January 2021
Senior Administrator  £175
Administrator  £120-£140
Assistants & Support Staff  £100

 

The charge-out rates charged are reviewed annually and are adjusted to take account of inflation and the firm’s overheads. Time spent on casework is recorded directly to the relevant case using a computerised time recording system and the nature of the work undertaken is recorded at that time. The work is generally recorded under the following categories:

  • Administration and planning
  • Investigations
  • Realisation of assets
  • Creditors
  • Trading
  • Case-specific matters

The legislation with regard to office holders’ fees changed on 1 October 2015; therefore, we seek time costs for the following categories:

  • Investigations
  • Distributions
  • Trading

When we seek time costs approval, we set out a fees estimate. That estimate acts as a cap on our time costs so that we cannot draw fees of more than the estimated time costs without further approval from those who approved our fees. When seeking approval for our fees, we will disclose the work that we intend to undertake, the hourly rates we intend to charge for each part of the work, and the time that we think each part of the work will take. We will summarise that information in an average or ‘blended’ rate for all of the work being carried out within the estimate. We will also disclose whether we anticipate needing to seek approval to exceed the estimate and, if so, the reasons that we think that may be necessary.

SKSi operate both on-shore and off-shore teams and have staff located in the UK and in India. These staff are employed as part of the SKS Group who are a majority owner of SKSi Limited.

Both UK and Indian teams work on all aspects of case administration under the supervision of the office holder. The hybrid team allows for a more cost-effective approach, to enable the work to be undertaken by people at the most appropriate level of expertise and avoids the considerable costs that would result if SKSi were otherwise to employee specialists and sufficient staff resources to carry out the work solely in the UK. Junior grades of staff are used where appropriately compatible with the efficient conduct of the matter in order to ensure that costs are kept to a minimum.

The disclosure that we make will include sufficient information about the insolvency appointment to enable creditors to understand how the proposed fees reflect the complexity (or otherwise) of the case, any responsibilities of an exceptional nature that will fall on the office holder, the effectiveness with which the office holder expects to carry out their functions, and the value and nature of the property with which the office holder will have to deal.

If we subsequently need to seek authority to draw fees in excess of the estimate, we will say why we have exceeded, or are likely to exceed, the estimate; any additional work undertaken, or proposed to be undertaken; the hourly rates proposed for each part of the work; and the time that the additional work is expected to take. As with the original estimate, we will disclose whether we anticipate needing further approval and, if so, why we think it may be necessary to seek further approval.

Percentage Basis

The legislation allows fees to be charged as a percentage of the value of the property with which the office holder has to deal. Different percentages can be used for different assets or types of assets. Any fee request will be accompanied by a report that will set out the potential assets in the case, the remuneration percentage proposed for any realisations and the work covered by that remuneration, as well as the expenses that will be, or are likely to be, incurred. Expenses can be incurred without approval, but will be disclosed to help put the remuneration request into context.

The percentage approved with respect to realisations will be charged against the assets realised, and, where approval is obtained on a mixture of bases, any fixed fee and time costs will then be charged against the funds remaining in the liquidation after the realisation percentage has been deducted.

The disclosure that we make will include sufficient information about the insolvency appointment to enable creditors to understand how the proposed fee reflects the complexity (or otherwise) of the case, any responsibilities of an exceptional nature that will fall on the office holder, the effectiveness with which the office holder expects to carry out their functions, and the value and nature of the property with which the office holder will have to deal.

If the basis of remuneration has been approved on a percentage basis, then an increase in the amount of the percentage applied can only be approved by the committee or creditors (depending upon who approved the basis of remuneration) in cases where there has been a material and substantial change in the circumstances that were taken into account when fixing the original level of the percentage applied. If there has not been a material and substantial change in the circumstances, then an increase can only be approved by the court.

Fixed Fee

The legislation allows fees to be charged at a set amount. Different set amounts can be used for different tasks. Any fee request will be accompanied by a report that will specify the set fee that we propose to charge and the work that will be covered by that remuneration, as well as the expenses that will be, or are likely to be, incurred. Expenses can be incurred without approval, but will be disclosed to help put the remuneration request into context.

The disclosure that we make will include sufficient information about the insolvency appointment to enable creditors to understand how the proposed fee reflects the complexity (or otherwise) of the case, any responsibilities of an exceptional nature that will falling on the office holder, the effectiveness with which the office holder expects to carry out their functions, and the value and nature of the property with which the office holder will have to deal.

If the basis of remuneration has been approved on a fixed-fee basis, then an increase in the amount of the fixed fee can only be approved by the committee or creditors (depending upon who approved the basis of remuneration) in cases where there has been a material and substantial change in the circumstances that were taken into account when fixing the original level of the fixed fee. If there has not been a material and substantial change in the circumstances, then an increase can only be approved by the court.

Members’ Voluntary Liquidations and Voluntary Arrangements

The legislation changes that took effect from 1 October 2015 did not apply to members’ voluntary liquidations (MVLs), company voluntary arrangements (CVAs) or individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs). In MVLs, the company’s members set the fee basis, often as a fixed fee. In CVAs and IVAs, the fee basis is set out in the proposals, and creditors approve the fee basis when they approve the arrangement.

All Cases

With the exception of individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs) and company voluntary arrangements (CVAs), which are VAT exempt, the office holders’ remuneration that is invoiced to the insolvent estate will be subject to VAT at the prevailing rate.

Agents’ Costs

These will be charged at cost, based upon the charge made by the agent instructed; the term ‘agent’ includes:

  • Solicitors/legal advisors
  • Auctioneers/valuers
  • Accountants
  • Quantity surveyors
  • Estate agents
  • Other specialist advisors

In new appointments made after 1 October 2015, the office holder will provide details of expenses to be incurred, or likely to be incurred, when seeking fee approval. When reporting to the committee and creditors during the course of the insolvency appointment, the actual expenses incurred will be compared with the original estimate provided.

Disbursements

In accordance with SIP 9, the basis of disbursement allocation with respect to disbursements incurred by the office holder in connection with the administration of the estate must be fully disclosed to the creditors. Disbursements are categorised as either Category 1 or Category 2.

Category 1 expenses are directly referable to an invoice from a third party, which is either in the name of the estate or SKSi; in the case of the latter, the invoice makes reference to, and therefore can be directly attributed to, the estate. These disbursements are recoverable in full from the estate without the prior approval of creditors, either by a direct payment from the estate or, where the firm has made payment on behalf of the estate, by a recharge of the amount invoiced by the third party. Examples of Category 1 disbursements are statutory advertising, external meeting room hire, external storage, specific bond insurance and company search fees.

Category 2 expenses are incurred by the firm and recharged to the estate; they are not attributed to the estate by a third party invoice and/or they may include a profit element. These disbursements are recoverable in full from the estate, subject to the basis of the disbursement charge being approved by creditors in advance. Examples of Category 2 disbursements are photocopying and mileage. It is SKSi policy not to draw Category 2 disbursements.

In light of the latest revisions to SIP9 and the revised definition of category 2 disbursements, please note that the firm is adopting the guidance of the IPA/ICAS in this regard, in that if a category 1 disbursement has been incurred and paid by the firm, any invoice raised by the firm to reimburse such disbursements will still be classified as a category 1 disbursement despite the payment being made to the firm.

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