As Antony Batty & Company celebrates 25 years in business we look back at what has changed since 1997.
Stephen Evans, former Licensed Insolvency Practitioner London – and now Consultant – reflects on some of the changes he has seen in the profession.
In 2022, Antony Batty & Company celebrated its 25th birthday. From small beginnings in 1997 to a multi-office insolvency practice employing c.40 people (including 5 Licensed Insolvency Practitioners) today, much has changed. In this article, one of our former Licensed Insolvency Practitioners (and now a consultant to the firm), Stephen Evans, takes a brief look at some of the changes he has seen both in the firm and in the wider insolvency profession during these 25 years.
Our Core Values remain the same
“Started by Antony Batty (the founding member) and his then assistant and later fellow Partner Hugh Jesseman in 1997 (who had met at their time with Ernst & Young), I joined Antony, Hugh and two other members of staff as a partner in late 2006. The firm, now, is very much the same as it was then in ethos – family orientated and treating everyone with respect – although it is now much bigger and has the experience to undertake any insolvency assignment.”
But much has changed in Insolvency
“The 25 years has passed very quickly. Some key events that took place in 1997 seem but a distant memory. For example:
- The Deep Blue computer programme defeated Gary Kasparov at Chess
- The Lion King debuted on Broadway
- Hong Kong was handed back to China by Great Britain
- Tony Blair became Prime Minister
- The first Harry Potter book was released, and
- Princess Diana tragically died in a car crash in Paris.
In much the same way, Insolvency was a very different beast in 1997 than it is today. Insolvency was governed by the Insolvency Act 1986, and the Insolvency Rules 1986. The profession was dominated by the big 4 firms, and the vast majority of insolvencies were Compulsory Liquidations/Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidations. There were very few Administrations, largely because they were expensive to carry out and, for that reason they were mainly the preserve of the big Insolvency firms – which were dominated by men.
Fast forward 25 years. Insolvency legislation is still enshrined in the Insolvency Act 1986 and the Insolvency Rules 1986. However, there have been more amendments to the Act and the Rules in the last 25 years than there have been in the entire history of UK Insolvency Law.
The majority of insolvencies are still Compulsory Liquidations/Creditors Voluntary Liquidations, but there is now a thriving rescue culture which focuses on saving businesses (rather than necessarily companies) through processes such as Out of Court Administrations, and Company Voluntary Arrangements.
These have become available to a wider market as they have become less expensive, and are promoted by large, medium, and small firms of Insolvency Practitioners many of which are boutique firms like us, rather than the general practices of old. Importantly, although Insolvency is still male dominated, there are now many female Insolvency Practitioners taking appointments, whereas before there were just a handful.”
What have been the main changes in Insolvency?
“The changes started in 2003 with the rather misleadingly named Enterprise Act 2002 which led to a sea change in the way Administrations were made available and there was a change in priority involving Charge holders (who were mainly Banks) Up to this time, Charge holders could appoint Administrative Receivers of their choosing, who sold businesses and assets at the Charge holders bidding. The changes meant that Charge holders could no longer appoint Administrative Receivers (on new post September 2003 charges) and so began the exponential growth in Administrations which up to this time had become seldom used.
In return for this loss in priority, HMRC gave up their then preferential status (see changes made in 2021 when this was reversed). It was at this time because of the relaxation in the Rules that ABC started to grow significantly as a firm.
As our staff numbers and business in London grew, we moved premises 4 times, finally moving to our current office at 3 Field Court, Gray’s Inn in 2005. We now have 5 other offices: Brentwood, Bournemouth, Salisbury and the Cotswolds as well as Antony Batty Thames Valley in Abingdon.”
Here’s to the Next 25 Years
So now we look forward to the next 25 years. The life of Licensed Insolvency Practitioners is exciting and ever changing, and whatever happens, we will always be here for businesses and individuals for when it isn’t business as usual.
So, if that’s the case with you or a client right now, contact us or call us on any of the numbers below. As always, the initial consultation is free and without obligation.
Also, K&W Recovery, trading as Antony Batty and Company, Thames Valley: