Background to Francis Wilks & Jones

Where experience counts.

Francis Wilks & Jones was founded in 2002 and is based in Central London. We specialise in providing legal services to a number of business sectors together with more bespoke advice to individuals. We count amongst our client base members of the Asset Based Lending Industry (we are an affiliate member of the ABFA), Insolvency Practitioners, Recruitment companies, brokers and accountants.

FWJ is primarily a commercial practice with a strong emphasis on commercial litigation, debt recovery, commercial finance and insolvency and restructuring work. We also offer property-related services to our clients.

The firm’s two founding partners, Andy Wilks and Tim Francis, gained much of their early expertise at former niche Receivables Finance law firm Wildes and then, after its takeover, at a leading London firm.

We employ a highly capable team of solicitors and support staff, all of whom are accessible to our clients. This ensures prompt and effective response times, coupled with cost effective solutions for our clients, something often unattainable for our larger competitors.

We also employ a full time Practice Manager, Nicola Singleton, and retain the services of Paul Saunders as a consultant to the firm, bringing with him 34 years of experience at Lloyds TSB Commercial Finance Limited, much of it at director level and latterly specialising in the provision of cash-flow finance to the Recruitment industry.

Let us advise you. Call now 020 7841 0390.

Debt Recovery

The ability to collect in outstanding debts is vital to ensure that a business continues to run smoothly and grow. The importance of an effective credit control function is too easily overlooked and can result in cash-flow difficulties and on occasion, complete failure of the business itself

Fraud Claims and Asset Recovery Services

Francis Wilks & Jones boasts an expert team of lawyers able to advise clients on the many different legal and practical issues arising from allegations of fraud, loss of money or other assets. Our expertise in civil fraud claims is exceptional.

Shareholder and Director Advice

Directors’ duties and obligations, and shareholders rights, are very different. Quite often in companies the duties of directors and shareholders become blurred and are ignored until it is too late. At this point, to avoid any Shareholder Disputes (often resulting in shareholder deadlock) early advice is essential.

Dispute Resolution and Litigation

The ability to offer the appropriate, tailored litigation solution to the problem in hand is almost as vital as the ability to then carry out that work. At FWJ, we understand that each client’s situation is unique and offering the right solution and implementing that without delay is essential in maximising your chances of success.

Business Recovery and Rescue

We have spent the last decade advising director and shareholders in a wide range of businesses facing trading difficulty. In many of these cases, we have successfully helped our clients to continue trading through their difficulties by identifying problems, finding solutions and avoiding formal insolvency. Even in the bleakest of situatons, there are always options available to businesses to help turn things around.

Company Services

At Francis Wilks & Jones we understand the complexities of business and the support that a business needs to develop. We have supported our commercial clients (and the individuals behind those clients) for many years. Our “company focus” offers emphasis not just on the full range of legal and technical issues that arise for our clients, but also the practical considerations of running a business on a day-to-day basis.

Claims against Directors

Whilst it is true that Directors of conventional limited companies normally benefit from a limited liability status, there are circumstances where that protection can be removed and Directors may become subject to personal claims against them - either following the insolvency of a company or arising from general breaches of their duties. In such circumstances it is vitally important to take legal advice in order to protect your position. The law relating to personal claims against Directors can be complex, but with proper advice, many of those claims can be defeated. Failure to deal with such claims could result in proceedings being issued and Court orders being made against you personally, ultimately leading to a loss of your personal property and perhaps even bankruptcy.

Services to the Asset Based Lending Industry

The Firm has three principal teams designed to assist an ABL’s every need. The close interaction between these teams means that a client problem can be dealt with swiftly and effectively.

Services to Insolvency Practitioners

FWJ is able to provide a full range of services to Insolvency Practitioners in respect of both corporate and personal insolvency matters and in respect of all types of insolvency procedures including administrations, liquidations, voluntary arrangements and bankruptcies. We also offer a specialist service to LPA and Fixed Charge Receivers and have experience of advising on members’ voluntary liquidations.

Services to the Recruitment Industry

Francis Wilks & Jones is renowned for its provision of legal services to the recruitment sector. This expertise was recently recognised by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation which appointed FWJ to be one of its Business Partners and furthermore, the only specialist litigation and debt recovery firm it will recommend to its Members.

Services to the Freight Industry

Francis Wilks & Jones has a broad range of experience acting for freight companies. Our expertise in this industry sector is also as a result of our excellent links with industry and our associate membership of the British International Freight Association.

Property

Whilst much of our property work flows from instructions into our insolvency department, we are also able to assist you with standalone commercial property matters and offer advice in relation to property issues that arise in transactions and deals our Business Law team is assisting with. We also provide a specialist service to Fixed Charge Receivers.

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Expert commercial litigation, debt recovery and fraud work

Our litigation solicitors are experts in all types of commercial litigation. The team has many years’ experience in all types of debt recovery claims, ranging from County Court claims to higher value High Court claim and multi million pound fraud cases. The litigation team also has exceptional experience in all types of alternative dispute resolution claims including high end mediation work.

Corporate Restructuring & Insolvency team

The insolvency team provides advice on a wide range of non-contentious insolvency matters and corporate rescue options. These include corporate administration, liquidation and corporate voluntary arrangements as well as providing advice on individual insolvency matters.

Commercial Advice

The insolvency team is complimented by the Business Law team who advise on all aspects of corporate restructuring, rescue finance and other commercial work.
Our solicitors have advised numerous high-profile clients, and the firm is an affiliate member of both the Asset Based Finance Association and R3 – the Association of Business Recovery Professionals.

Specialist director and shareholder advice

Francis Wilks and Jones have a highly respected team which can provide advice on a wide range of directorial and shareholder issues – ranging from specialist director disqualification advice both pre and post issue to issues arising from shareholder disputes and roles and director responsibilities

Cutting edge technology and links to other professionals

Francis Wilks & Jones has always recognised the importance of having the latest technology to support our bespoke law service offering. For example we have invested heavily in a sophisticated case management system to help deliver our litigation services in the most efficient and cost effective manner possible. Not only do our clients benefit from the high level of legal advice offered by our lawyers profiles they are also supported by the best possible IT systems available.
In addition we recognise that our clients will from time to time require assistance from other professionals such as accountants and financiers with whom we have built close ties over the last decade of being in business. Our Links page demonstrates our full service offering in this respect.

High level of one to one contact

Our business practice includes a high level of one to one contact with our clients and we offer the complete package our clients are looking for, whatever the case and whatever their requirements.
We boast a broad range of links to other professional advisors forged over a decade of working together. We can therefore provide our clients a “total solution” with assistance from whichever experts and advisors are required.

Company and director assistance

  • Setting Up a New Business

    Setting up your own business or developing into a new area of business can be challenging and there will be many different issues that all demand your attention. We can relieve you from part of this burden by providing expert advice regarding some of the formalities and help support you with the following:

    -Do you need help with company formation?
    -Do you need assistance with preparing agreements with your investors?
    -Do you understand your role and responsibilities as a director?
    -Have you considered funding options for your new business?
    -Do you understand the documents your bank or financier is asking you to sign?
    -Do you need advice on tax, property or employment issues?
    -Do you require advice from other professionals such as accountants?
  • Acquiring Or Restructuring An Existing Business

    Acquisition

    If you are looking to purchase an existing solvent business from its shareholders or the business and assets of a distressed company as a going concern from an administrator, we can assist you with:
    -Drafting and negotiating a sale and purchase agreement for either shares, or business & assets with the vendor
    -Conducting due diligence enquiries
    -Advising you on any finance arrangement you are entering into in connection with the purchase and the related security documents and guarantees you are asked to provide
    -Dealing with any registration of shares or assets in your name

    Restructuring a solvent business

    You may be considering changes to the finance arrangements your business currently uses, or a reorganisation of your group structure in order to operate with improved efficiency in the challenging economic climate. We can:
    -Assist you in considering the alternative methods for group restructuring and implementation, including members voluntary liquidation or schemes of arrangement -Discuss alternative finance solutions with you and advise on any finance agreement and related security or agreement with your investors -Assist you in obtaining expert tax and employment advice

    Restructuring a distressed business

    If you are unfortunately facing increasing creditor pressure, you may need expert advice on the alternatives for your business in order to preserve its’ value and protect your employees. We have extensive contacts among Insolvency Practitioners who are experts in constructing a strategy for your business to enable you to better manage your creditors and deliver a successful business for the future.

  • Shareholder and Director Advice

    Directors’ duties and obligations, and shareholders rights, are very different. Quite often in companies the duties of directors and shareholders become blurred and are ignored until it is too late. At this point, to avoid any Shareholder Disputes (often resulting in shareholder deadlock) early advice is essential.

    Good planning and proper arrangements are extremely important if business owners are to have a good productive working relationship. Such measures can not only prevent a dispute from arising but, if a dispute is unavoidable, can mitigate the consequences of that dispute and enable a smooth continuation of trading.

    At Francis Wilks & Jones we have the expertise to assist with all arrangements between business owners/shareholders and also advise, negotiate and (if required) assist with litigated disputes.

  • Finance Arrangements

    Are you getting the service you expect from your lender or does the relationship appear to be one sided? Do you face obstacles such as:

    -Restrictions on the level of funding required
    -Expensive fees and penalties imposed
    -Lack of sympathy when you need your lender’s support the most
    -A slow to response to your cash flow needs

    At FWJ we have many years’ experience dealing with different types of finance facilities and have many trusted contacts within the finance and brokering market place. We can help review your current facility and if necessary put you in touch with a variety of third parties who will be able to assist you in seeing whether there is an alternative form of funding which may be more suitable for your business.

    We can also guide you through the minefield of terms and conditions of funding facilities and associated security.

  • Debt Recovery and Credit Control Advice

    The ability to collect in outstanding debts is vital to ensure that a business continues to run smoothly and grow. The importance of effective credit control functions are too often overlooked leading to cash-flow difficulties and on occasion, complete failure of the business itself.

    The litigation team at Francis Wilks & Jones has a proven track record in debt collection for a wide range of clients. Our results are extremely impressive both in terms of the amounts recovered and the true cost of those recoveries to our clients.

    Our aim for clients is a simple one: Collect the debt in as quickly as possible at the cheapest cost.

  • Statutory Demands & Winding-Up Petitions

    If a creditor has a debt against a company, the normal route is to apply to Court for judgment (often referred to a County Court Judgments or CCJs). Alternatively, if a debt due to the creditor is outstanding and is not disputed, then the Creditor can present a Statutory Demand against the company. For creditors, please see our webpage which deals with presenting a Statutory Demand.

    A Statutory Demand is a formal demand served under the insolvency laws for repayment of any debt over £750. If a Statutory Demand is ignored and the debt not paid within 21 days, the company could be wound-up by the Court as it is presumed that the company cannot pay its debts. Following the winding-up of the company, directors may even become personally liable as a result of the company being placed into liquidation.

    A Winding-Up Order may be sought by a creditor following the presentation of a statutory demand or once a creditor has a CCJ. The method of obtaining a Winding-Up Order is that the creditor must present at Court and serve on the company a Winding-Up Petition – for creditors please see our webpage which deals with the presentation of a Winding-Up Petition.

    The service of a Winding Up Petition on a company can have enormous consequences for a business. If not dealt with properly it can lead to the company being wound up, shut down and the end of your livelihood. It is vital to take early control. If the Winding up Petition becomes public knowledge, this can quickly lead to the bank freezing accounts and suppliers refusing to supply. This often spells the end of the company as it is unable to trade.

    Directors and managers of the business are often unaware that they can held personally liable for company debts if the company keeps trading after service of the Winding Up Petition and is then later wound up. This is another reason to take early legal advice.

  • Legal Proceedings

    At FWJ we act for both Claimants and Defendants. We can advise on the following areas:

    -How best to settle claim without the need for legal proceedings, whether by formal or informal mediation or negotiation.
    -Analyse and provide technical advice on the legal merits and issues faced by you in the proceedings.
    -Help to guide you through the court process, again with the aim of maximising the result for you.
    -Advise on formal mediation, alternative dispute resolution and arbitration.
    -Provide links to specialists whom you may need as part of your claim, such as barristers, accountants, investigators and other experts.
  • Insolvency Practitioner

    Is your business in a formal insolvency process and is the insolvency practitioner pursuing you for any claim under the Insolvency Act? An insolvency practitioner appointed over your business is required by law not only to investigate the affairs of the business but also the conduct of the directors. These can lead to an IP bringing a variety of claims against the directors such as:

    - Wrongful trading / trading whilst insolvent
    - Misfeasance
    - Challenging transactions at an undervalue
    - Trading under a prohibited trading name
    - Preference payments

    You may also be a creditor of a company which has entered into insolvency proceedings, an employee, a director of a company which is already subject to such proceedings, a shareholder or a third party which had dealings with a company pre-insolvency. Francis Wilks and Jones can assist in dealing with such correspondence and aim to minimise any exposure you have and maximise your interests in insolvency. This work includes the following:

    - Assisting and advising on proxy and proof of debt forms received in respect of a proposed liquidation of a company and advising on methods of maximising your interests as a creditor.
    - Assisting with proposal of a different Insolvency Practitioner to act as liquidator, one which would act more in your interests.
    - Assisting with maximising your interest above other creditors, in terms of advising on and dealing with fixed or floating securities, recovering goods supplied, exercising liens over company property, claims for set-off, recovering property where the company is a tenant, protecting landlords from liabilities (e.g. rates), claiming as a preferential creditor in a liquidation or administration and claims for immediate payment from the Redundancy Payments Service.
    - Negotiating payments of rent by administrator/liquidator and advising on landlord’s powers in such circumstances.
    - Advising on claims by liquidators or administrators for assets either stated to be owned by the company (see previous point) or in respect of pre-insolvency transactions that you or your company was a party to.
  • Director Disqualification

    Being disqualified from acting as a director can have dramatic consequences for any individual.

    Taking control of the situation is vital. Specialist legal advice can dramatically reduce the chances of a director disqualification order being made at all. Even in circumstances where an order is likely, we can help try to reduce the period of disqualification for you.

    The specialist director disqualification solicitors’ team at Francis Wilks & Jones are the country's leading experts in this field. Our track record is highly impressive.

    We offer a wide range of advice and support in the following areas:


    - Dealing with all pre issue correspondence from the Insolvency Service or their lawyers.
    - Assessing the merits of any threatened claim against you.
    - Defending legal proceedings commenced by the Secretary of State.
    - Negotiating voluntary undertakings.
    - Recovering costs from the Secretary of State when successful in defending actions
    - Seeking permission to remain a director even if disqualified.

  • Other Non-Legal Professional Support

    At FWJ we pride ourselves on our links to trusted third party specialists. We understand that our clients may require not only legal advice, but a range of other specialist skill sets to help them achieve their goals. These can range from accountants to financiers, investigators to restructuring experts.

    Our years’ of experience and extensive long term relationships with other professionals mean that we can help match the requirements of our clients to the most appropriate individual or firm providing that specialist advice. We can help you cut out the guess work and ensure that you build the complete team required to help solve your issues. For more information, click on our Links page.

London

020 7841 0390

6 Coldbath Square
London
EC1R 5HL

franciswilksandjones.co.uk
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