Chris Love works at Primas Law in Stockton Heath.

Here he offers some tips on keeping business running while the doors are closed

THE country is now in lockdown which includes the closure of all non-essential shops, initially for a 3 week period.

Businesses that rely on footfall and their suppliers had already felt the effects of coronavirus, social distancing and working from home.

While some businesses may be able to adapt their offering to online services such as e-commerce or delivery services, others will cease trading entirely.

Whilst cash-flow is interrupted, businesses still have liabilities to HMRC, landlords, employees and suppliers.

There has been some assistance with HMRC as the Chancellor announced a VAT holiday until June 2020.

For many facing such a difficult situation, I would firstly advise you look at negotiating a discount or some additional time for payment from your suppliers or landlords.

Where possible, companies should be seen to be pro-active and engage with creditors in advance, rather than defaulting without speaking to them, as this may prompt enforcement action.

While continuing to trade is the main aim for businesses facing this crisis, the harsh reality is that the pandemic is likely to have a devastating impact on some businesses.

Where you have difficulty paying creditors, it’s important to consider whether your business could be insolvent.

In cases like this, it’s advisable to speak with an expert as business owners can rely on taking professional advice as evidence for fulfilling their duties as company directors.

Companies that continue to trade whilst insolvent can also incur new liabilities that may lead to the director being personally held responsible for the resulting loss, so please also be very aware of this.

If you do find yourself getting to a point where you’re considering a full (or partial) business closedown, or staff redundancies, please do seek legal advice before making any decisions, as there might be other options you might not have considered.

For example, you might want to think about putting the company into an insolvency process, such as a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA).

This means that you’ll only need to pay a proportion of the amount you might owe to creditors and will help to protect you against further interest from creditors.

Before making any decisions about your business during such an uncertain time, please do consider all your options and seek advice from an expert.

We’re all in this together, and at Primas, we’re keen to see as many Warrington businesses come out of all this as unscathed as possible.