It’s a sad fact that in 2023 over 25,000 businesses went bust across England and Wales, to reach a 30-year high.

So far this year, some high-profile brand names including Ted Baker and The Body Shop have gone into administration.

When a company is declared bankrupt and the receivers are called in, it is certainly not business as usual. For the customers of a company in administration or liquidation, it can be a frustrating and confusing time, and potentially costly.

Imagine that you have bought an engraved watch for a friend or partner’s upcoming birthday.

You haven’t yet received the watch and then discover the company has since gone out of business.

You’ve paid for the item – and can’t afford to buy another gift until you get your money back, so what can you do?

It’s worth remembering that if a company has gone into administration, it may still be able to fulfil outstanding orders, but if the company is already in liquidation, in this situation you’d need to try to get your money back.

Different tactics then apply based on whether it’s a limited company (it will have ltd or plc after its title) or if it’s a sole trader (someone who runs their own business) or partnership.

For a limited company, the new contact will be the administrator or receiver - the person dealing with settling the trader’s debts, and the names of those administrators will usually be on the website of the company that’s gone bust.

You can register a claim as a creditor on the GOV.UK website, by filling out the form with details of what you’re owed and sending it to the administrator dealing with the trader’s debts.

The administrator or receivers’ role is to prioritise a company’s debts into those who have a direct claim on the business or are employees, for instance, to pay those first.

For customers, as you will be low on the list, unfortunately, there’s only a small chance you’ll receive any money back.

If you paid by debit or credit card, as online companies request you to do, you can raise a Section 75 claim or a chargeback claim to your card provider or bank.

Full details about these types of claims can be found on the Citizens Advice website.

If the seller was a sole trader or partnership and not a limited company, pursuing a Section 75 or chargeback claim is your best option.

Every case is different when traders go under, but you can call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133 to find out exactly what your rights are.