Carillion Collapse – How poor debt management can lead to insolvency

On 15 January 2018, an order was made to wind up Carillion plc, the UK’s second largest construction company.  The companies involved in the liquidation are Carillion plc, Carilllion Construction Ltd, Carillion Services Ltd, Planned Maintenance Engineering Ltd, Carillion Integrated Services Ltd and Carillion Services 2006 Ltd.

The construction giants were involved in (amongst other things) maintaining various public services such as schools and prisons and 50,000 homes for the Ministry of Defence. Alongside their public sector contributions, Carillion were the second biggest supplier of maintenance services to Network Rail, and played an important role in the development of the HS2 high-speed rail line.

What happened?

Carillion had significant debts, reported to be around £1.5 billion pounds. It is believed that Carillion ran into trouble after losing money on big contracts and took on too risky, unprofitable contracts.

What effect will the collapse have?

Carillion employ up to 20,000 employees in the UK alone, leaving many people uncertain about their future. Carillion also employs thousands of smaller UK businesses to work on their behalf across various projects which they are involved in. Some of these companies have expressed their concerns that they may not be able to recover should Carillion be unable to pay them what they are owed. The collapse also means that the government will have to provide funding to maintain the public sector work which Carillion was responsible for.

What lessons can be learned?

One of the biggest lessons which can be taken from the downfall of Carillion concerns effective management of debt. Many believed that whilst Carillion was in a staggering amount of debt, the company was too big to collapse. It seems that no matter how big or small a business is they will not be immune to the crippling effects that debt may have.

Many businesses face the pressure of debt at some stage and it is important that business owners are pro-active about dealing with any debt they face.

Baines Wilson recognises the very real pressures of debt which may affect local businesses and therefore invites anyone who may benefit from learning how to avoid and manage debt along to our debt and business seminars.

The seminars will be hosted by Baines Wilson litigation experts, Elizabeth Black and Imogen Duck and business recovery practitioners, Sonya Brannigan and Sheryl Armer of Adcroft Hilton.

You will also have the opportunity to ask any questions during the course of the seminar and to network with other professionals and business owners.

The seminar will cover the following areas:

Dealing with debt from outside of your company

  • Recovering bad debt: litigation and presenting winding up/bankruptcy petitions
  • Claiming against an insolvent defendant and insurance companies: how to pursue legal proceedings, the restrictions and commercial considerations
  • Prevention: 10 top tips on preventing sticky situations

Dealing with debt from inside your company

  • The key factors of knowing when a company is at risk of insolvency
  • The differences between cash flow/balance sheet solvency and insolvency
  • Director awareness of responsibilities when any potential insolvency is triggered
  • Sole Traders: When bad debts affect your personal solvency. What can be done?

Dates and Venues

  • Wednesday 28 February 2018, Imperial Hotel, Blackpool
  • Tuesday 6 March 2018, Holiday Inn, Lancaster
  • Thursday 8 March 2018, Rheged, Penrith

For any further information regarding any of these events please consult the events section of our website or email Martha Winn at

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