Your rights if a retailer collapses before you receive your goods

What are my consumer rights? What is the law?

If a retailer that you have purchased goods or services from goes out of business, your remedy depends on whether the retailer was i) a limited company ii) a partnership or iii) an individual.

How do I find out if they were a limited company, individual or partnership?

By law all traders have to clearly state on their stationery what their trading status is.  This means that they have to state whether they are a limited company, individual (otherwise known as a sole trader) or partnership. "Stationery" includes websites, emails and letterheads. You should therefore look at any letters or invoices/receipts that you have received from the retailer or alternatively look on their website if they have one.

1. Individual or partnership

If the retailer was an individual or partnership, the individual or partners will remain personally liable to you. You should therefore find their personal contact details and liaise with them.

2. Limited company

Firstly you will need to find out if the retailer is in 'administration' or 'liquidation'. You can find this out from one of the following sources:

Consumer Direct (call 0845 404 0506)
Companies House -

If you discover that the retailer is in administration you should contact the administrator (whose details will be available from one of the above sources) and try to negotiate a satisfactory remedy. An administrator's job is to take control of the company's assets and try to sell them for the best possible price. At this stage it is possible that the company will have assets and therefore cash available to deal with you or indeed the ability to give you your undelivered goods.

If you discover that the retailer is in liquidation then again you should find the liquidator's details and try to contact them to resolve your problem. However, it is less likely that the liquidator will be able to help as it is likely that by this stage the company's assets will have been disposed of.

When companies go into administration/liquidation it is possible that another entity will purchase them. You should check to see if this happens as it may be that the purchaser will help you as a matter of goodwill and to preserve reputation.

NOTE: it is important that you keep your receipt and any other proof of purchase

Did you pay the deposit or full purchase price using your credit card?

If you did you can claim against your credit card company. Click here for further details


Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the legal information contained on “consumeruk” is accurate, it does not constitute legal advice tailored to your individual circumstances. If you act on it, you acknowledge that you do so at your own risk. Neither the Proprietor nor Dean Dunham can assume responsibility and do not accept liability for any damage or loss which may arise as a result of your reliance upon it.

Last updated 21.02.2013


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