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.
(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.
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.
(Amended October 2011)
All mail must be sorted into the following categories:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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".
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.
(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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Sorting the mail
Opening the mail
Identifying the post
Receipt of externally sent e-mails