Complaints procedure

How to make a complaint about the Insolvency Service.

We are committed to providing a professional, fair and efficient service to our customers.

We want you to tell us if you are not happy with our service. We’ll try to resolve your complaint and make sure it does not happen again.

This guide tells you information about making a complaint.

What can I complain about?

We will look at complaints where you feel we’ve failed to meet our standard of service. We have failed to meet our standard of service if:

  • you experienced unreasonable delays
  • we made mistakes with your case
  • we did not follow our policies or processes
  • a member of our staff has not acted appropriately
  • we have not responded to correspondence within our published targets
  • we have given you misleading or incorrect information

We will not look at a complaint if:

  • the matter is not related to the Insolvency Service
  • it has already been through our complaints procedure
  • it is outside of our time limits to investigate or escalate
  • it is about ongoing or upcoming legal proceedings
  • it is about government policy
  • we’ve already told you about a more appropriate solution, for example taking court action, going to an employment tribunal, or contacting the police
  • you want to request information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or Data Protection Act 1998
  • you disagree with, or are unhappy about the outcome of an operational decision (operational decisions are business decisions made to manage routine, ongoing work).

If we do not accept your complaint, we will write to you to explain why and provide you with an alternative avenue to raise your concerns.

What if my complaint is not about the Insolvency Service?

You might want to complain to us about:

  • a bankrupt person or a director of a company in liquidation, administration or administrative receivership
  • a director or sole trader reusing the name (or a similar name) of a company in liquidation
  • a disqualified director
  • an active limited company
  • an insolvency practitioner (for example a trustee, liquidator, administrator or supervisor of an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA))

We have further information to help you find the right place to direct your complaint to.

Complaint time limits

You must complain within either:

  • 6 months of the issue occurring
  • 6 months after you became aware of the issue

After we’ve sent a reply, you have 3 months to escalate an existing complaint.

We will not review a complaint outside these time limits. In exceptional circumstances, we may review cases if you provide evidence why you did not send us your complaint sooner.

Our complaints procedure

We know that every complaint is different, so we deal with each one in the most appropriate way. We make sure complaints are handled by the most appropriate person within a business area.

Before sending a formal complaint, we expect that you have tried to resolve your issue informally with the person you’ve been dealing with, or their manager. If you are not able to resolve the issue, you can raise it as a formal complaint under our complaints process.

Tier 1

This is the first step in our formal complaints procedure. Usually we’ll send your complaint to a complaint handler within the team or business area where your issue occurred. They will send you a formal reply once they have independently investigated your case. If you are not happy our reply will advise how you can escalate your complaint.

Tier 2

If you want to escalate your complaint, you should contact us within 3 months of our response. Your complaint will then be reviewed by a senior member of staff not previously involved in the case. They will issue you a formal reply once they have completed their review. If you are not happy, our reply will advise how you can escalate your complaint. We may inform you of an alternative course of action outside of our complaints procedure.

Tier 3

If you have been told you can escalate your complaint to the Office of our Chief Executive, you should contact us again within 3 months of our last response. Our Chief Executive will review your case to make sure we handled your complaint appropriately, proportionately, and fairly. Once the Chief Executive has completed their review, we will send you their formal reply. If you are not happy, our reply will advise how you can escalate your complaint to our oversight regulator.

We will not escalate the complaint if you send us new information to look at. Instead we will issue a follow up response.

How do I send a complaint?

You can make a complaint by:

Please do not send complaints to any other Insolvency Service email address, as it might take us longer to respond to you.

What should I include in my complaint?

You should tell us:

  • your name and address
  • the name of the bankrupt or insolvent company (if applicable)
  • the court reference and case reference (if you have one)
  • details of your complaint
  • copies of any correspondence or documents about your complaint
  • the name of the staff member you wrote or spoke to and when
  • details about what has gone wrong
  • how you would like us to resolve your complaint

How long do you take to reply?

Tier 1 and 2

We aim to reply to 90% of these complaints within 10 working days. If this is not possible, we’ll write to you within 5 working days to tell you why and when you can expect a full reply. We aim to fully reply to 95% of these complaints within 20 working days.

Tier 3

The Office of our Chief Executive will take longer to review complaints. They aim to investigate 80% of these within 3 months. We’ll write to you within 5 working days to acknowledge receipt of your complaint.

What standards of service can I expect from you?

We always aim to provide a high standard of service, but if we make a mistake you can expect any of the following:

  • an apology
  • an explanation
  • an assurance that the same mistake will not happen again
  • details of what we did to put things right
  • in certain circumstances, financial compensation

Ex-Gratia Compensation (discretionary payment)

Unfortunately, the nature of our business sometimes leads to stress for our customers. We cannot control this, but we know that if we make a mistake or cause an unreasonable delay, we could cause you more worry, inconvenience or irritation. In these circumstances, we might offer compensation to acknowledge our mistake, and to apologise for the way we’ve treated you.

These payments are not intended to put a value on the distress you have suffered. The payments will range from £25 to a maximum of £250.

Unreasonable individual behaviour

We aim to provide a high quality service, and deal with complaints in a way that’s fair and transparent.

Occasionally, some individuals behave in a way that makes it very difficult for us to help them effectively. We do not accept behaviour where individuals abuse our staff or processes. We consider whether someone’s actions are affecting our ability to do our work and provide a service to others. In these instances, we might have to limit the contact those individuals have with us.

Find out more about unreasonable individual behaviour and what action we might take.

Claiming back your costs from us

If we make a mistake or cause an unreasonable delay, you might be able to claim for additional costs you have had to pay as a direct result of our error. The compensation will depend on the nature and circumstances of the mistake, and the actual loss or costs you had to pay. We consider each claim on its own merits and is separate form the complaint process.

What if I disagree with the final outcome of my complaint?

If are not happy with our final response, you can send your complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman. The Ombudsman is independent from the government. Their process requires you to contact your MP and ask them to refer your complaints to the Ombudsman. You cannot complain yourself, directly.

The ombudsman will expect you to have finished our internal complaints procedure before you contact them. We’ll tell you when you’ve reached the end of our complaints procedure. Further information is available on the Ombudsman’s complaints process.

Government policy or legislation

If you want to complain about a government policy, or legislation on insolvency or employment rights, you can write to the relevant minister or your local MP.

Court orders

You might want to complain about a court order. For example, if you think the court should not have made you bankrupt. In these cases, you should contact the court that made the order.

More information

We monitor all complaints to make sure we meet our standards and find out how we can make improvements.