Difference between a Liquidator and the Official Receiver?

Liquidator vs Official Receiver In the UK the difference between a Liquidator and the Official Receiver is that a liquidator is an insolvency practitioner appointed to wind up the affairs of a company that cannot pay its debts.  The Official Receiver, on the other hand, is a civil servant appointed by the court to oversee the administration of an insolvent estate.

The Official Receiver’s duties include investigating the debtor’s financial affairs, realising assets, and distributing funds to creditors. In some cases, the Official Receiver may also be required to act as the liquidator.

However, in most cases, the Official Receiver will appoint a licensed insolvency practitioner to carry out the liquidation

What’s the difference between a liquidator and the Official Receiver?

When a company goes into compulsory liquidation, the Official Receiver (OR) is appointed by the court to deal with the company’s affairs. The Receiver is an officer of the court and is responsible for investigating the company’s affairs, realizing its assets and distributing the proceeds to creditors.

A liquidator, on the other hand, is appointed by the shareholders or creditors of the company and is responsible for managing the liquidation process. The liquidator’s duties include preparing financial statements, distributing assets to creditors and reporting to shareholders.

While both roles are important in the process of winding up a company, the Official Receiver has more power and authority than a liquidator.

Official Receiver

Official Receiver is a public officer who is appointed by the court to act as receiver in bankruptcy cases. The duties of an Official Receiver include taking charge of the property of the bankrupt person, selling the property, and distributing the proceeds among the creditors.

The Official Receiver also has the power to investigate the affairs of the bankrupt person and to report to the court. In some jurisdictions, Official Receiver is also responsible for supervising the conduct of trustees in bankruptcy.


A liquidator is a professional who is responsible for the wind-up of a limited company. This involves ensuring that all debts are paid, and that any assets are sold off in an efficient manner. In some cases, a liquidator may also be responsible for distributing the proceeds of the sale among the company’s creditors.

The role of liquidator is typically undertaken by an accountant or lawyer, although in some jurisdictions it may be possible for a non-professional to be appointed. The main task of a liquidator is to bring the affairs of the company to an end in an orderly fashion, and to maximize the return to creditors. In many cases, this will involve selling off the company’s assets and using the proceeds to pay off debts.

In some cases, it may also be necessary to negotiate with creditors in order to reach an agreement on repayment terms. Once all debts have been paid, any remaining assets will be distributed among the company’s shareholders according to their ownership stakes. Liquidation can be a complex and time-consuming process, but it is often the best solution when a company is no longer viable.

Who they’re employed/hired by

Official Receiver

The Official Receiver is employed by the insolvency Service and answers directly to Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The role of the Official Receiver is to act as a receiver and manager of bankruptcies and companies in compulsory liquidation.

The Official Receiver also has responsibility for investigating the affairs of bankrupts and conducting public interest reports. The Official Receiver is an important part of the insolvency regime in England and Wales and plays a vital role in protecting the interests of creditors.


A liquidator is someone who is contracted by a company to wind up its affairs. This can happen for a number of reasons, such as the company becoming insolvent, or if it has been sold and the new owners do not want to continue operating it. The liquidator’s job is to sell off the company’s assets, pay its debts, and distribute any remaining money to its shareholders.

In some cases, the liquidator may also be appointed to investigate the company’s affairs and try to recover money that has been lost through mismanagement or fraud.


One of the first decisions a company must make when insolvent is whether to appoint a liquidator or an official receiver (‘OR’). The key difference between the two is that a liquidator is appointed by the company, whereas an OR is appointed by the court. A company may opt for a liquidator if it wishes to retain control over the winding-up process and maximise the chances of salvaging something from the company for its creditors.

An OR, on the other hand, may be appointed if the company is deemed to be trading irresponsibly or there are concerns about fraud or mismanagement. Once appointed, both liquidators and ORs have similar powers and duties, such as investigating the company’s affairs, realising its assets and distributing funds to creditors.

If you need advice on who to appoint, a liquidator vs Official Receiver simply complete the online enquiry or contact us directly on 01246 912052

Steve Jones Profile
Insolvency & Restructuring Expert at Business Insolvency Helpline

With over three decades of experience in the business and turnaround sector, Steve Jones is one of the founders of Business Insolvency Helpline. With specialist knowledge of Insolvency, Liquidations, Administration, Pre-packs, CVA, MVL, Restructuring Advice and Company investment.