Incoming Post

INTRODUCTION

1) How is mail received into an office?

Mail can arrive at the office in different ways. The bulk of mail will be delivered by the Post Office and through the Document Exchange (DX) system, usually in the morning and at midday. Nonetheless, mail can also be delivered by hand, fax and of course by e-mail.

 

2) Who can open the mail?

(Amended October 2011)

For security reasons, any post delivered to the OR must not be opened unless there are at least two people present. The two person rule applies irrespective of grade. If at all possible, the cashier or any officer from the cashier’s section should not be involved in the opening of the post as it may contain money. This is to protect staff from any accusations of theft. 

 

3) Security

The post must only be opened in a secure place where there is no possibility of it being removed by unauthorised staff. The table upon which the post is opened should be clear to prevent any remittances or letters being mislaid.

Officers receiving post must at all times be aware of the procedures for dealing with suspicious letters and packages. If any mail appears suspicious, do not open it and immediately refer it to the Official Receiver, an Assistant Official Receiver or any senior officer.

 

4) Mail sorting

(Amended October 2011)

All mail must be sorted into the following categories:

  1. Personal. Any mail clearly marked "Personal" should never be opened but delivered to the addressee, as soon as possible.
  2. Envelopes marked "Addressee only" or "Restricted: Staff". Again, should never be opened but passed as soon as possible to the addressee unless it is obvious that the mail is from an outside source and as such is likely to be case related.
  3. Registered or recorded mail.
  4. Mail delivered in error. This should be returned to the Post Office.
  5. All other mail.

 

5) Registered or recorded mail

Any registered or recorded mail must be signed for and then entered in the memorandum book that is kept for this purpose. It may then be opened with the ordinary mail but the contents should be securely attached to the envelope.

 

6) Opening the mail

Each envelope must be opened carefully with all the contents removed and date stamped showing the correct date. Important papers such as court orders, statements of affairs, etc should be stamped on the back of the document(s). Care should also be taken to prevent any unopened envelopes becoming intermingled with those that have been opened. Before any envelopes are destroyed, a quick check should be made to ensure that all contents have been removed.

 

7) Enclosures

Where enclosures are mentioned in correspondence, a check should be made to ensure that they have actually been attached. If they have been omitted, a note to that effect should be made in pencil on the covering letter.

 

8) Redirected mail

Before any re-directed mail is opened, a check should be made to ensure that the envelope is addressed to the correct company/partnership in liquidation and does not belong to a company or partnership with a similar name. On the rare occasion when a bankrupt’s mail is re-directed there are certain restrictions placed upon the OR, for example, mail to which legal privilege or mail from the bankrupt’s legal advisers must not be opened. Thus before opening, a bankrupt’s re-directed mail should preferably be given to the AOR/OR for specific instructions.

Any redirected mail that is opened must have the envelope securely attached to its contents. This is important as it will identify the case to which the mail relates or the reason why it was not delivered.

Redirected mail can be in two forms:

  1. the mail which has been redirected upon the application of the official receiver. Although this type of mail may include a lot of "junk mail" it may also contain valuable information about the insolvent’s activities, undisclosed creditors or even a remittance.
  2. mail sent out by the Official Receiver’s Office and returned because of non-delivery. In these circumstances, the envelope must be retained. If the enclosure was a disqualification claim form or an appointment letter to a bankrupt/director, then the fact that it has been returned marked "gone away" etc is of relevance and the returned material plus the envelope may become evidence.

In cases where a redirection order is in force and the official receiver sends mail to that bankrupt/company, before posting it should be marked as follows:

"To be delivered as addressed. Not to be redirected to the Official Receiver".

 

9) Mail delivered by hand

When mail is delivered by hand to the Official Receiver’s Office it should be dealt with in the same way as posted mail. It should be given to the officer authorised to open post, date stamped and also noted with the time it arrived at the office. This is particularly important when proofs and proxies are delivered for a meeting, as there is a deadline by which these have to be lodged with the OR.

 

10) Remittances received

(Amended October 2011)

All monies received must be attached securely to the relevant correspondence. If more than one cheque is received, an add list should be produced showing the total amount and this should be placed with the remittances. One member of the post opening staff must enter the remittances on LOLA in the Remittance Received Register (RRR). The amount of the cheque, cash or postal order must be recorded in the RRR along with the sender’s name, particulars of what the payment is for and the relevant estate. Those members of staff involved in opening the post should initial the RRR and their names may also be included on it. The RRR, add-list, remittances and associated correspondence are then passed to the person responsible for approving any payments received on LOLA. This may be a B1 or any other senior officer within your office authorised to do so by the official receiver.

The LOLA countersigning officer should check all monies received against the appropriate documents before the staff member leaves the room/area. If any items are found to be wrong the countersigning officer can amend the details as necessary. This practice also provides further security of remittances and prevents possible fraud or accusations of fraud. The full procedure for dealing with remittances received is set out in the LOLA Manual, parts 3-6.

Offices will often receive post-dated cheques; in cases where the payor has deliberately post-dated the cheque for a few days it can be treated as non-banked and kept until the date is reached. The cheque should then be re-entered as being received on that date. Any foreign cheques may be sent to LOLA banking and should be dealt with as a non-banked item with the covering letter retained in the non-banked correspondence file. LOLA banking will post the appropriate amount directly on the estate account when the conversion is made and monies received in the bank account. Deposit on petitions may be left overnight awaiting LOIS to update LOLA.

Remittances may also be received "over the counter" and care should be taken by the person accepting the payment. It must be taken to the cashier’s section immediately and entered on LOLA appropriately. The cashier’s section will be responsible for providing a receipt for the monies received.

The official receiver should bank remittances at least once a week, although cash over £100 should be banked on the day of receipt. 

 

11) Faxed mail

Faxed mail should be dealt with as an urgent item. Correspondence received by fax will usually have the date and time of arrival printed on it and also a covering note giving details of the person for whom it is intended. All faxes should be seen by the OR/AOR as soon as possible, but when they are not immediately available, it may be passed to another member of staff to consider if any urgent action is necessary.

 

12) Official Receiver’s e-mail boxes

Each Official Receiver’s Office has a generic mailbox set up to deal with enquiries where the user is not aware of a personal e-mail address. One specific person in each office (with a nominated deputy, if necessary) will be responsible for reviewing this box and allocating any mail received through this system to an appropriate staff member.

In addition, offices also have the use of an e-mail facility for those staff who do not wish to disclose their forename when sending or receiving external communications. Full details of its operation are contained in Management Notice M39/02 and each office will have their own localised procedure for dealing with the day-to-day maintenance of this. This should not be confused with the standard e-mail address which includes the individual’s name or the existing generic office e-mail box covered in the paragraph above.

 

13) Receipt of externally sent e-mails

It is for each individual person to make a decision as to whether or not an e-mail warrants being forwarded to his or her line manager. Due to the increasing number of e-mail communications from outside sources, it is considered impractical for these to be routed through a line manager as a matter of course. Only in instances where the e-mail received raises any difficult issues or requires management input should it be transmitted to your line manager. Equally, where its contents should be noted for management purposes, then it should be forwarded to the appropriate line manager.

 

14) Second delivery of post

There is usually a second delivery of post around midday. This should be dealt with promptly and not left until the next day. The procedure for opening the second post is the same as that for the morning post.

 

15) Distribution

All the post, including redirected post, must be distributed according to the practice within your local office. For instance, an AOR may wish to view their examiners’ mail before it is given to them.

 

Notes

  1. A remittance may be a cheque, postal order or cash. Parts 3-6 of the LOLA Manual provide clear instructions on the handling and recording of remittances.
 

Where can I find out more?

LOLA Manual: Parts 3-6

Security Notice 3/90

Notice 1/94 Restricted Markings

Finance Notice: F5/02- Changes to Financial Administration Processes

Management Notice: M39/02 – Additional E-mail Box for External Communications

 

Incoming Post Procedure Flowchart 

 

PROCEDURE

Sorting the mail

  1. Receive and/or collect mail.
  2. Ensure that the date stamp is correctly set with the current date.
  3. Sort through the post and set aside any letters with a confidentiality/restricted marking, such as "ADDRESSEE ONLY" "PERSONAL" etc. Date stamp these on the outside of envelope but do not open them.
  4. Enter the "Registered or Recorded" mail in the Memorandum Book and then place them for opening with the general post.
  5. Sort through the mail that has been redirected by the Post Office. On the rare occasion when a bankrupt’s mail is re-directed, do not open it but give this to an AOR/OR for specific instructions on how to proceed. Return any mail that has been incorrectly diverted by the Post Office.
  6. Set aside any mail from the Official Receiver, which the Post Office has not been able to deliver as the envelopes must be kept to show the reason for non-delivery.

Opening the mail

  1. General post, which excludes those with privacy markings or any re-directed mail, should be opened carefully, ensuring that all the contents are removed and date stamped appropriately. The discarded envelopes should be placed in a pile and kept separately from those that have not been opened. Remittances should be dealt with as outlined in step 12.

Stamping

  1. All post should be stamped showing the date received. Care should be taken to ensure that any important papers, such as court orders, statement of affairs, etc are stamped on the back of the document.

Enclosures

  1. If more than one document is received or where enclosures are referred to in a covering letter, the attachments should be checked and shown as being received by ticking the correspondence where appropriate in pencil. This is to verify that any document has been received and not lost or mislaid whilst opening the post. A note of any missing enclosures should be made on the appropriate correspondence.
  2. Where a package is received, it should be opened carefully and date stamped on the outer cover. Where possible, the outer cover should be kept with the contents intact and sent to the addressee or appropriate person, e.g. the stationery officer.

Redirected mail

  1. Redirected mail or mail which the Post Office has been unable to deliver should be opened and the envelope must be securely attached to its contents. It is important that the envelope is retained, as this will be proof of the address to which it was originally sent.

Remittances received

  1. Where a remittance is received in the post, it should be attached securely to the accompanying correspondence and date-stamped in the usual way. A note must be made on the correspondence of the amount received, preferably next to the date stamp. All post containing remittances should be placed in a separate pile. Any foreign cheques may be sent directly to LOLA banking and should be dealt with as a non-banked item with the covering letter retained in the non-banked correspondence file. When the conversion is made and the monies received in the bank account, LOLA banking will post the appropriate amount directly on the estate account. Where a post-dated cheque is received and it is obvious that the payor has deliberately post-dated it for a few days it can be treated as non-banked and kept until the date is reached. The cheque should then be re-entered as being received on that date. Deposit on petitions may be left overnight awaiting LOIS to update LOLA.
  2. All remittances received must be totalled up using an adding machine. The add-list roll from the calculator should be kept and one member of the post-opening staff should enter details of the sums received onto LOLA in the Remittance Received Register (RRR). All staff members involved in opening the post should initial the RRR and their names may also be recorded on it.
  3. The RRR, add-list, remittances received and related correspondence should be taken to the person responsible within your office for authorising remittances received onto LOLA. This may be a B1 or any other person sanctioned to do so by the OR. The LOLA countersigning officer should check all documentation before the post opening staff member leaves the room/area. If any items are found to be wrong they will make the appropriate corrections, as necessary.

Identifying the post

  1. All post must be noted with the initials (or whatever system of identification is used in your office) of the person who is to receive the item of post. A search may have to be made on LOIS to identify who is dealing with the matter.
  2. Sort out the post for distribution according to your local office procedure. This may be to sort it into folders for each examiner and then pass these to the OR/AOR for him/her to see.

Delivery

  1. All mail must be promptly delivered.
  2. The envelopes may be checked before they are thrown away to ensure that nothing has been missed.

Receipt of externally sent e-mails

  1. Where the matter is of a general nature, there is no obligation to forward a copy to the appropriate line manager.
  2. If the subject concerned raises difficult issues or requires management input/attention, copy to appropriate line manager.