BusinessBusiness RecoverySanta holds a mixed bag.

Santa holds a mixed bag.

Predictions for the future are de riguer at this time of year, but as business recovery specialists view the coming year, it may well be with the sense that mixed blessings are on the way.

A quick look at this year shows that blessings, as lauded as they may well be, always appear heavily disguised.

Take, for instance, the Enterprise Act. In September, it ushered in a new era of easy-to-use administration procedures that, in many cases, dispensed with the need for a court order. Good, you might think: all those legal niceties out the window.

However, now we hear that, without the court room showdown, ordinary creditors have lost a vital means of making their claims.

Which, in time-honoured, end-of-the-year fashion raises the question, what’s it all about? Are we doing it for the entrepreneurs going bust, or are we trying to ease the pressure on creditors.

The Act, in many ways, seems schizophrenic on this issue, not quite sure which identity it wants to take on next. Trouble is, next year may well do more to reveal its two-faced nature.

If interest rates go up as expected, many more fragile businesses could see themselves the subject of administration procedures.

After all, the last set of DTI insolvency figures prompted experts to warn that scores of businesses teetering on the brink could well go over the edge if the Bank of England decides it has to act against inflation.

An avalanche of insolvencies is likely to reveal just what benefits, and for whom, the Act has produced. Is it really easing the path back to business for honest entrepreneurs struck by bad luck? Or is it merely hampering the efforts of lenders trying to retrieve their generously proffered cash?

We’ll see. Let me say I realise this is just a list of unresolved questions, but let me return to those New Year mixed blessings. Lots of businesses going under is an unhappy time for everyone.

And yet the business recovery specialists may still prosper. Sad as it may seem, someone always benefits in a crisis.

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