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Difference Between a Statutory Demand and a Winding Up Petition

Understanding the difference between a statutory demand and a winding up petition is crucial for company directors and financial managers, particularly in challenging economic times.

This article will clearly delineate the key differences between these two legal tools, used in the context of insolvency. For more detailed insights, you may refer to our comprehensive articles on Statutory Demands and Winding Up Petitions. 

Statutory demand and winding up petition

What is a Statutory Demand?

A statutory demand is a formal demand for payment issued under section 123(1)(a) or 222(1)(a) of the Insolvency Act 1986.

It is used by a creditor claiming an outstanding debt of at least £750 that is due and payable by a company or an individual.

Serving a statutory demand is often the first step in the debt recovery process, signalling the creditor’s intent to initiate insolvency proceedings if the debt is not settled within 21 days. 

Characteristics of a Statutory Demand

  1. Threshold: The minimum debt amount is £750. 
  2. Timeframe: The debtor has 21 days to pay or reach a settlement. 
  3. Flexibility: The debtor can negotiate or dispute the demand within this period. 

What is a Winding Up Petition?

A winding up petition is a legal action taken by a creditor or creditors against a company that owes them £750 or more.

It is a formal request to the court to force the debtor company into compulsory liquidation.

This step is taken when creditors believe that the company is unable to pay its debts and see liquidation as a means to recover some portion of the owed money. 

Characteristics of a Winding Up Petition

  1. Seriousness: This represents a severe action indicating that the creditor has lost faith in the company’s ability to pay. 
  2. Legal Proceedings: Requires filing in court, and a hearing date is set. 
  3. Consequences: If successful, leads to the appointment of a liquidator to wind up the company’s affairs. 
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Key Differences Between a Statutory Demand and a Winding Up Petition

Purpose and Use

  1. Statutory Demand: Primarily a debt recovery tool, serving as a warning to prompt payment. 
  2. Winding Up Petition: A more drastic measure used as a last resort when there is no confidence in the debtor’s ability to settle their debts. 

Legal Implications

  1. Statutory Demand: Does not involve court proceedings unless disputed by the debtor. 
  2. Winding Up Petition: Involves formal legal proceedings and results in court hearings. 


  1. Statutory Demand: Can lead to further insolvency proceedings if unpaid, but gives a chance for the debt to be paid or disputed. 
  2. Winding Up Petition: Aims for the cessation of the company’s operations and liquidation of assets. 

Impact on the Debtor

Receiving either a statutory demand or a winding up petition is a significant matter for any company.

A statutory demand, while serious, offers a window for the company to rectify its financial issues or contest the claimed amount.

In contrast, a winding up petition is a clear indication that legal actions are intensifying, potentially leading to the end of the company’s business activities. 


Understanding the nuances between a statutory demand and a winding up petition is essential for managing corporate finances and legal risks effectively.

While both are tools used by creditors to recover debts, their implications, processes, and outcomes differ significantly.

Company directors should consider seeking professional advice upon receiving either of these notices to explore all available options and implications for their business. 

By being informed about these legal instruments, directors can better navigate the complexities of insolvency proceedings and protect their company’s interests. For further guidance, refer to our specific articles on Statutory Demands and Winding Up Petitions. 

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    Andy Slinger

    Andy is Head of Marketing for Business Helpline with a wealth of experience Marketing in the financial sector. He has a passion for helping business owners struggling with debts.

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