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You can apply to the court to 'wind up' a company if:

  • it cannot pay its debts of more than £10,000 by the due dates
  • you've taken the necessary steps to write to it asking how it could settle the debt (proposals for settlement)
  • you've informed the company of your intent to apply to the court
  • it has not made proposals for settlement within 21 days or you're not satisfied by the proposals

This guide covers winding up companies in Scotland only. Visit GOV.UK for guidance on English and Welsh companies.


This is a general guide only. The £10,000 debt limit is from temporary changes to legislation. The changes run from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022. 

You should get advice from a solicitor, your accountant or an insolvency practitioner before taking action to wind up a company.

Your application to the court is known as a 'winding up petition'. If successful, the court will put the company into liquidation. This is known as a compulsory liquidation.

If you petition for a winding order against the company, you may not get all or any of the money you're owed. This may not be the best course of action for you to take.

A debt specialist (such as a solicitor, your accountant or an insolvency practitioner) can help you work out the best way to recover a debt. They can also help prepare and submit your petition to the court (if appropriate).

If you're owed less than £10,000

You have some options if a company owes you less than £10,000 and has either:

  • failed to honour a payment
  • admitted in writing that they are liable for the debt

You should seek advice from a solicitor on which of these options is available to you:

  • raise a court claim to try and recover the debt
  • submit a winding up petition together with another creditor – if the total sums due are greater than £10,000
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