Where did the insolvency evolve from?

Since the onset of the Great Depression in the 19th century, the IMF specified it as the worst collapse in America. The Great Depression was a catastrophe in the economic decline throughout the history of the industrialized world, and it lasted from 1929 all the way long to 1939. When the Great Depression in 1933 reached the lowest point, it is said that some fifteen million Americans were set unemployed, while approximately half the banks of the country had failed. The resultant crisis had a substantial impact on commercial activities and economies throughout the world. Therefore, everyone needed to rehabilitate his businesses as a primary concern to revitalize the weakening areas of the economy. 

What is solvency, and how can it play a role in minimizing the economic jerks? We need to go in 200 years back in history to understand the scenario regarding the establishment of insolvency law.


In the old days, when the trade started spreading on a large scale, it had two consequences. One was that many people invested in the business. Still, some businesses failed, people’s capital was lost, and ultimately, the businessman had to be sent behind bars.  About two hundred years ago, people from European countries went out to do business. The government allowed them to set up a company that would start a business. In case of loss, the capital invested in the company could also be given to the creditors. The assets of the investors, such as houses, shops, etc. were not affected by this bankruptcy. 


When the British company’s private army occupied the sub-continent, the company’s army had become very powerful and well-organized. The company simultaneously started to accelerate its trading activities. British investors started trading in India as it was an unconventional investment. To protect their investments, who might have a chance of failure, insolvency, or bankruptcy law was introduced. Over time these bankruptcy laws had to be changed. 

When a person did his business privately and became unsuccessful, he was protected by the law of insolvency created by the British government. The common law forced a man to be imprisoned as a punishment for non-compliance, but for traders, this punishment was abolished. A bankrupt person could not make any property for ten years and could not keep any money in the bank. He had to spend only on his hard-earned salary. 

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According to the modern definition of insolvency, it is the condition when someone (maybe a person or a company) is unable to pay back the money he owes, on time, and the person individual or company facing the insolvency are insolvent. 



We can describe insolvency in two forms.

  • Cash flow insolvency:

It is the condition where an individual or company has ample assets to pay back but lacks a proper schedule of payment. An example is given that if a person owns a property and a costly car, but don’t have enough liquid assets or cash to pay its debt. This type of insolvency can be resolved usually by bargaining. 

Balance-sheet insolvency:

It is the condition where an individual or company does not possess sufficient resources to pay back all of their owed debts. Therefore, the individual or company may be declared bankrupt. If all of the stakeholders agree to the damage, then by mediation, they try to clear up the issue without bankruptcy. For instance, an insolvent grower may be permitted to engage people to harvest his crop. As not harvesting together with not selling the crop might be poor for the creditors. 


The difference between the two is related to the establishment of legal authority. There is a pre-determined time when a debtor fails to repay a loan and has to repay it at a certain time. Thus, a company, person, or country may default within a certain time. The default is a specific event, where an organization fails to fulfill this responsibility.

Bankruptcy is a legal process where lenders work with legal entities to supervise the financial activities of a defaulted institution.

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Here we should keep the difference in default and bankruptcy or insolvency. Default is “when a defaulter fails to pay back the debt he owes and is enforced to pay off at a certain time. While bankruptcy is a legitimate process, where lenders work with legal authorities to oversee the finances of an entity which is in default or insolvent”. 

Some domains like in the United States of America, it is considered as an offense regarding the insolvency laws for a company or organization to continue in business. The business may sustain under a consented arrangement. While in several areas of authority, the base for a civil activity or even an assault, to carry on to pay some creditors in preference to other creditors once a state of insolvency is reached. 

Insolvency authorities evolved in very different ways around the world, with laws aiming at different policies for dealing with the insolvent. The result of insolvent marketing may be very different. That depends on the laws of the concerning country in which the insolvency proceeding is going to be run. In many cases, different stakeholders in a company may hold an advantage in different domains.

It can be a civil and even a criminal offense for directors to allow a company to continue to trade whilst insolvent. Two advanced procedures of insolvency were introduced in the Insolvency Act 1986, that intent to provide a company with a rescue time, or at least, it’s business. These are called Administration and Company Voluntary Arrangement.

The insolvency is there for every case to provide a legal solution for debt-ridden companies. In most cases, this highly reduces the strain for the company’s directors, when they realize there is a solution to seemingly hopeless problems.


Insolvency is a state where a company or individual fails to pay off his debts within a certain time limit. This state can be spotted by using a balance sheet test and cash flow test. It can be resolved either by the company itself or the legal authorities are responsible to deal with the insolvent company as well as individuals.

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