May 3rd 2023

Bounce Back Loans - What We Know Three Years on

Remember the Bounce Back Loans frenzy of spring 2020? We sure do.

And now, nearly three years later, we're here to update you on where things stand.

According to data provided to BEIS by the banks at the end of July 2022, a whopping £46.6 billion of BBLs were made, with only £4.7 billion fully repaid by borrowers. Meanwhile, £8.4 billion is in arrears and default and subject to the Government's guarantee. British Business Bank estimates £3.5 billion to have been obtained by fraud.

Now, we're seeing a 'BBL pandemic' in the insolvency sphere - a wave of insolvencies where BBLs and other Government support have been utilised by the directors and questions arise from the use of that financial Government support.

Our understanding has grown as we've tested out claims and engaged with potential defendants. And one key takeaway? Overstating turnover to get a BBL doesn't per se give rise to a claim against the former directors.

While we've seen disqualifications for wrongly obtaining the BBL, misconduct meriting disqualification doesn't require a loss and exists purely on policy grounds to ensure the integrity of UK companies.

The usual toolkit for office holders - breach of duty, claims in debt and (subject to timing) transaction at an undervalue or preference - remain available.

Stay informed, stay sharp, and keep bouncing back.

Image showing Andrew Cawkwell

Andrew Cawkwell
Head of Business Development



Andrew Murphy
Associate Director for the Thames Valley and South East

What is your legal background?
I qualified as a solicitor in 2012 at JCP Solicitors, based in my home town of Swansea. I became a director and head of JCP’s insolvency department in 2018, before relocating to Guernsey in 2019 to join Appleby’s dispute resolution team. After a really enjoyable few years’ experience of offshore insolvency and trusts litigation, I joined Blake Morgan’s insolvency and business support team in April 2021, based in Reading. The bulk of my time in private practice was spent acting for insolvency office holders in contentious matters. Having worked at a range of law firms, from regional to international with the accompanying client profiles that you’d expect from each, I relish the tactical challenge of getting results in comparatively modest value litigation as much as pursuing high value claims with seemingly limitless resources.

How long have you been at Manolete?
I joined Manolete in March 2023 as an Associate Director in the Thames Valley and South East region, although I also maintain connections with contacts in London, Guernsey and Wales, given Manolete’s flexible approach. Like most lawyers, I like to be busy and hoped upon joining that my desk wouldn’t remain empty for too long. I really needn’t have worried. I quickly discovered the high volume of referrals made to Manolete each week and began reviewing cases on my first day.

What have been your main impressions?
My first impression was that someone had clearly researched my dietary preferences, as the team arranged a welcome lunch at a nearby Italian restaurant, which is about the best first impression anyone can make on me. On the work side of things, I’m enjoying being part of an experienced team of insolvency litigators with a shared pragmatism for obtaining fair, proportionate and swift results. I always enjoyed the collaborative effort between lawyers and IPs in private practice, which is very much part of the Manolete culture and particularly rewarding when it yields recoveries in litigation that might otherwise be stifled by an opponent’s time-and-cost-wasting tactics. The team adopts a real 'no-nonsense' approach to insolvency litigation, which comes from years of doing quality work in private practice.

What are the other highlights?
Having spent more than a decade in private practice acting under a range of funding arrangements, it is really refreshing to be able to pursue bona fide claims in the knowledge that no amount of prevarication by an opponent will cause cost-pressure and/or litigation fatigue. I am also enjoying collaborating with a greater number of insolvency practitioners and, as a totally new experience from private practice, solicitors from various firms.

What do you do outside of work?
I like to get outdoors and overseas as often as possible, ideally near the sea. I also play basketball, golf (very badly and never in the rain), and enjoy weight training, but only really to offset my aforementioned weakness for Italian food.

Stephen Baister writes
Opera and the Law

I like opera, although I’m not a fanatic. I don’t do Wagner because he’s too long and ponderous and I avoid many of the Italian tragedies that end with someone singing himself or herself to death.

Law gets everywhere, so it’s not surprising that quite a few operas have legal themes or elements. Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi is about a testamentary swindle. The Makropulos Case by Janacek is about one of those probate/property cases that has been dragging on for years. In Verdi's Aida, Radamès is put on trial for giving away a state secret. Britten’s Billy Budd (based on a story by Herman Melville) also involves a criminal trial, raising questions about the justice of it and the subsequent execution of the eponymous Budd at the hands of Captain Vere. Britten’s Peter Grimes features an inquest. Matrimonial issues abound.

Gilbert and Sullivan are perhaps the best known English interpreters of the subject, Trial by Jury being the best known example, I suspect. But the operatic duo touched on a hot topic of their age too: the rise of the joint stock company and its necessary concomitant, company failure, in an opera called Utopia Limited.

The king of Utopia decides to introduce English customs and institutions to his island kingdom. That includes the English limited liability company, still at the time a relatively new development in the law. Limited liability is satirised:

“Some seven men form an Association,
(If possible, all Peers and Baronets).
They start off with a public declaration
To what extent they mean to pay their debts.
That’s called their Capital: if they are wary
They will not quote it at a sum immense.
The figure’s immaterial - it may vary
From eighteen million down to eighteen pence.
I should put it rather low.
The good sense of doing so
Will be evident to any debtor.
When it’s left to you to say
What amount you mean to pay,
Why, the lower you can put it at, the better.”

(It’s better with the music.)

And so is liquidation:

“As a company you’ve come to utter sorrow
But the liquidators say,
‘Never mind, you needn’t pay,’
So you start another company tomorrow.”

Opera is often about life and death. That can mean corporate life and death too.

R3 Southern Forum 2023
Lessons from planning and organising a regional conference

1. Introduction
The R3 Southern Forum 2023 at the DeVere Hotel in Reading, sponsored by Manolete, was widely acclaimed as a successful event. Conventional wisdom has it that you learn most from your mistakes. Maybe, but the list below focuses on the positive aspects of the planning.

2. What worked for us

Top ten tips:
1. Start planning early. We began in February 2022
2. Hold regular planning meetings
3. Involve R3 Events Team from the outset
4. Agree possible dates for the forum, as early as possible
5. Have an online working draft of the programme
6. Keep the sessions in the programme short
7. Add sparkle with a keynote speaker
8. As Chair, avoid giving action points to yourself
9. Hold at least one planning meeting at the venue
10. On the day, impose strict timekeeping

Followed closely by:
11. Invite neighbouring regions onto the organising committee
12. Keep planning meetings short and schedule them well in advance
13. Circulate an agenda before each meeting and minutes shortly afterwards, with action points listed at the end
14. Decide on a unifying theme
15. Decide earlyish which charity/charities you will support
16. Brainstorm an outline programme in a face-to-face session
17. Involve the organising committee in all key decisions but take executive decisions when necessary
18. Leave the R3 Events Team to negotiate with the venue and manage the budget
19. Agree sponsorship packages with R3 and seek sponsors in good time
20. Minimise the number of paid speakers
21. Arrive at the venue the evening before

Worth considering:
22. Regular updates on bookings from R3 Events Team
23. Back-up plans for speakers who are unable to attend at the last minute
24. Keep it simple. Breakout sessions, fancy apps and the like can get complicated
25. Thinking of a 1½ day conference? Tricky - full day delegate rate for the 2nd day is likely

3. Planning schedule

Early days

  • Identify alternative forum dates
  • Plan outline programme
  • Identify venue requirements – must-haves and non-essential desirables
  • Visit potential venues
  • Make provisional venue booking

The booking sets the conference date. Working backwards, identify roughly by when each of the following must be completed:

  • For the R3 website, agree: an outline programme, sponsors, charity or charities the forum will support and ticket price (consult R3 team)
  • “Save the date” email to members
  • Go firm on venue and requirements – AV, rooms, room layouts, meals, refreshments, overnight accommodation
  • Ticket-selling to go live
  • Finalise programme
  • Submissions for the brochure, including: regional chair’s welcome message, speakers’ photos, logos and bios, sponsors’ logos, slides and videos for the rolling slide show, dress code etc.
  • Speakers to submit slides
  • Final planning meeting
  • Forum itself

Just a guide based on our experience. I hope you find it helpful.

Image showing Neil Stewart

Neil Stewart
Associate Director for the South


We have the Financial Strength to Support Your Claim

Manolete has developed a series of social media videos, with our PR partners Instinctif. The videos highlight the strength of our lawyers network, the unique Manolete model and the benefits to creditors in insolvent estates if IPs choose Manolete litigation finance.

Watch the video here.


R3 Annual Conference - Venice


Acqua alta: Managing the rising tide of insolvencies

Manolete is delighted to be a key sponsor partner for this important event for the whole insolvency sector. The conference is designed to offer extensive networking opportunities to build new connections and catch up with previous acquaintances including a welcome reception on the first evening and a reception and gala dinner on Thursday evening

Date and time
10-12 May 2023

Hilton Molino Stucky Venice,
810, 30133
Venezia VE,

Find out more