020 4586 4720 [email protected]


Understanding the intricacies of business law is pivotal for navigating the world of commerce effectively. One such integral term is the ‘share charge,’ a legal concept utilised within the framework of business financing and loan acquisition. At its core, the share charge serves as a security mechanism in loan transactions, providing a safety net for lenders by offering them certain rights over the shares of a borrowing company.

To explore the concept further, a share charge is created over the issued share capital of a company. It grants the lender, or the ‘chargee,’ a conditional ownership or control over these shares. This security arrangement ensures the chargee has a recourse to recover their loaned amount should the borrowing company, or the ‘chargor,’ default on their debt repayment.

In such scenarios, the chargee may exercise their rights to take control of the shares, or even sell them, to recover their funds. Importantly, the specific rights afforded to the chargee will depend on the terms and conditions outlined in the charge agreement. Therefore, both parties must pay careful attention to the stipulations within this document to comprehend their rights, obligations, and potential risks involved.

However, to fully grasp the significance of share charges, one must delve into their operational nuances, legal framework, creation process, registration requirements, enforcement mechanisms, and potential implications. These aspects form the bedrock of this guide, illuminating share charges’ role in bolstering the UK’s business landscape and fortifying lenders’ trust in corporate borrowers.

The following sections will journey through these elements in-depth, providing a comprehensive understanding of share charges under the UK law and their application in everyday business transactions. The objective is to equip businesses, lenders, investors, and legal practitioners with a well-rounded view of this vital mechanism, enabling them to make informed decisions in their professional endeavours.


Nature of share charges

Share charges can be viewed as a legal agreement where a company (‘chargor’) conveys an interest over its issued share capital to a lender (‘chargee’). This conveyance serves as a form of collateral, offering a layer of security for the loan provided by the chargee to the chargor.

When we refer to ‘interest,’ in the context of share charges, we mean specific rights granted over the shares. These rights could include the ability to take ownership of these shares, to sell them, or to receive dividends or other financial benefits that arise from those shares. It’s crucial to note that the extent of these rights will be explicitly dictated by the charge agreement. The agreement will outline the terms and conditions of the charge, the circumstances under which the chargee can exert their rights, and the obligations of the chargor under the charge.

Interestingly, while the chargee acquires certain rights over the shares, the chargor retains the legal ownership of the shares until certain conditions are met – usually a default on the repayment of the loan. This aspect of share charges underscores the concept of ‘security’ that is central to their existence. The chargor pledges the shares as security for the loan, but the transfer of ownership only happens if the chargor fails to repay the loan as per the agreed terms.

Share charges provide a safety net for the lender. If the chargor is unable to fulfil its loan obligations, the chargee can utilise their rights over the charged shares to recover their funds. This may involve selling the shares or appointing a receiver to manage the shares. This potential consequence underscores the importance of share charges in the lending landscape, encouraging responsible borrowing and safeguarding the interests of lenders.

The nature of share charges is further segmented into two categories – ‘fixed’ and ‘floating’. A fixed charge takes effect immediately and relates to specific shares that are identifiable at the time of creating the charge. The chargor is restricted from dealing with these shares without the consent of the chargee. On the other hand, a floating charge is a more flexible form of charge. It does not immediately attach to any specific shares, allowing the chargor to continue to deal with the shares freely until a specified event occurs (often referred to as ‘crystallisation’) that causes the floating charge to become a fixed charge.

The dichotomy between fixed and floating charges introduces another layer of complexity to share charges. It offers different levels of control and protection to the chargee, and varying degrees of freedom and obligation to the chargor, depending on the type of charge chosen.

In essence, the nature of share charges is deeply embedded in the principles of security, protection, and assurance within the realm of business loans. They serve as a bridge between the rights of a lender and the obligations of a borrower, providing a balanced playing field that accommodates the interests of both parties.


Creating a share charge 

The creation of a share charge is a process that involves detailed planning, careful negotiation, and precise documentation. As a legal instrument, its birth is triggered by an agreement between the chargor and the chargee, manifesting in the form of a ‘charge document’ or a ‘security agreement’. This document outlines the terms and conditions of the share charge, thereby defining the scope of rights and obligations of the parties involved.

The charge document is more than just a piece of paper; it serves as the backbone of the share charge. It needs to meticulously stipulate the rights of the chargee, the obligations of the chargor, and the circumstances under which the chargee can enforce the share charge. Every clause in this agreement carries weight and requires careful consideration to ensure it accurately reflects the intent of the parties and that it complies with legal requirements.

In the charge document, the chargor declares its intent to create a security interest over its shares to the chargee, and it promises to perform certain obligations, usually to repay a loan. The document will also list out the consequences of failing to meet these obligations and provide the circumstances under which the chargee can enforce their rights over the charged shares.

Two essential terms within this document are the ‘fixed’ and ‘floating’ charges, distinct types of charges that have diverse implications for both parties involved. A fixed charge attaches to the shares in question immediately upon the execution of the charge document. The shares charged are identifiable, and the chargor cannot deal with them without the chargee’s consent. This arrangement gives the chargee a greater degree of control over the charged shares, ensuring their security interest is not diluted by subsequent transactions involving the shares.

On the contrary, a floating charge is a more flexible form of security. It allows the chargor to deal with the shares freely, despite the charge. The floating charge ‘floats’ over the shares without attaching to any specific shares until the occurrence of a predetermined event, often referred to as ‘crystallisation’. These events could include the chargor’s insolvency, cessation of business, or other specific events agreed upon in the charge document. At this point, the floating charge ‘crystallises’ and behaves like a fixed charge, attaching to the shares and restricting the chargor from dealing with them without the chargee’s permission.

Choosing between a fixed and floating charge is a strategic decision. It requires the parties to assess their risk tolerance, their trust in each other, and their future plans for the shares. A fixed charge gives the chargee a greater sense of security, while a floating charge affords the chargor a greater degree of operational freedom.

The creation of a share charge is, therefore, a process that not only involves a mutual agreement between two parties but also strategic considerations. This arrangement, crafted within the four corners of a document, can significantly impact the financial dynamics of the parties involved and thus needs to be devised with foresight and comprehension.

Registration of share charges 

The creation of a share charge is merely the first step in this intricate process. What follows is the equally important task of registration. The purpose of registering a share charge is twofold: it notifies the public of the existence of the charge, and it also secures the priority of the chargee’s rights against subsequent chargees.

According to Section 859A of the Companies Act 2006, all UK incorporated companies are required to register charges, including share charges, with Companies House within 21 days of their creation. This is not a mere formality, but a critical legal requirement. Failing to comply with this registration requirement could render the charge void against a liquidator, administrator, or any creditor of the company.

Companies House is essentially the public register of companies in the UK, and it maintains records of all registered charges, making this information accessible to the public. This transparency allows prospective creditors and investors to make informed decisions about the financial health and risk associated with a particular company.

In order to register a charge, the company or the person interested in the charge must deliver to Companies House the details of the charge along with the charge document. It is important to note that the charge document must be redacted to exclude any personal information, as the document will be made publicly available once it’s registered.

Upon successful registration, Companies House will issue a certificate of the creation of the charge. This certificate serves as conclusive evidence that the registration requirements have been satisfied. It specifies the date of registration, which is crucial for determining the priority of the charge. Generally, the principle is ‘first in time, first in right,’ meaning that earlier registered charges will have priority over those registered later.

The registration requirement ensures that the share charge, once a private agreement between the chargor and the chargee, is now publicly recorded. This process, while administrative, is of utmost importance. It safeguards the chargee’s interest, provides a clear picture of the company’s liabilities to interested parties, and maintains an ordered system of priority among multiple chargees. Therefore, both the chargee and the chargor must be mindful of this requirement to protect their respective interests.

Enforcing a Share Charge

The enforcement of a share charge is a critical process that typically takes place when the chargor defaults on the loan agreement. It is a protective measure that allows the chargee to secure their financial interest by utilising the rights conferred to them through the charge document. 

The methods of enforcement available to the chargee will primarily be set out in the charge document. These typically include powers to sell the charged shares or appoint a receiver. However, the chargee’s power to enforce their security is not absolute and must be exercised in good faith and a reasonable manner.

The sale of the charged shares is a common enforcement mechanism. This action allows the chargee to recover the debt by selling the charged shares to a third party. However, the power of sale is not immediately available upon the creation of the charge; it usually arises upon the occurrence of a default event defined in the charge document. Additionally, the chargee must give the chargor notice of its intent to sell the shares, providing them with an opportunity to repay the outstanding debt and prevent the sale.

The appointment of a receiver is another mechanism that a chargee can utilise to enforce a share charge. A receiver is a neutral third party appointed to manage the charged shares. The receiver has the power to sell the shares on behalf of the chargee and will apply the proceeds of the sale towards the repayment of the debt.

Notably, under UK law, a chargee seeking to enforce a share charge must do so in a manner that seeks to obtain the best price reasonably obtainable at the time of sale. This requirement, known as the ‘duty of care,’ ensures that the chargee acts responsibly and does not undersell the charged shares, thereby preventing undue loss to the chargor.

Another crucial factor to consider during enforcement is the priority of the charge. If multiple charges have been created over the same shares, the priority of the charges will determine the order in which the proceeds of the enforcement are distributed among the chargees.

In conclusion, the enforcement of a share charge is a sensitive and complex process. It involves a balance between securing the chargee’s financial interests and respecting the rights of the chargor. The process must be executed with utmost care, transparency, and fairness, taking into account the terms of the charge document, the applicable laws, and the circumstances of the case.


Implications of share charges

 The concept of share charges, while seemingly intricate and complex, is a crucial part of the UK’s business landscape. It’s a balancing act between the rights of lenders and borrowers, offering a safety net for lenders while providing businesses with access to necessary funding. While we’ve thoroughly explored the technical aspects of share charges, it’s also essential to delve into their practical implications.

First and foremost, share charges serve as an essential tool for companies to secure funding. By providing lenders with a form of security, companies can access funds they might not have been able to obtain based on their credit standing alone. In this sense, share charges can be a pivotal mechanism for growth and expansion for businesses.

For lenders, share charges provide a safeguard against the risk of non-payment. The ability to enforce the charge and recover the loaned amount by selling the charged shares provides a form of insurance, encouraging lending and facilitating business finance.

However, while share charges offer several benefits, they also come with their share of obligations and risks. For companies, the creation of a share charge means parting with certain rights over their shares. If the company defaults on its loan repayment, the consequences could be severe, including the loss of their shares and potential insolvency.

Similarly, lenders also bear the burden of risk. The value of shares can fluctuate, and there is no guarantee that the sale of the shares will cover the entire loan amount. Moreover, the enforcement process can be time-consuming and costly.

In terms of practical considerations, the choice between a fixed and floating charge can have significant implications for both the company and the lender. A fixed charge provides more security for the lender but can limit the company’s flexibility to deal with its shares. On the other hand, a floating charge offers more operational freedom to the company but can be riskier for the lender.

It’s also critical for both parties to be mindful of the legal requirements involved, especially the need to register the charge. Failure to register the charge can have serious consequences, including rendering the charge void against other creditors.

In conclusion, share charges have significant implications in the world of business finance. They provide an avenue for companies to secure funding and lenders to mitigate risk. However, they also involve several responsibilities and potential risks. Both companies and lenders must, therefore, navigate this landscape with an understanding of their rights and obligations and a careful consideration of their risk tolerance and business needs.



The Role of Second Charge Loans in Estate Planning

Second charge loans and mortgage securities are essential tools in estate planning, enabling smart financial decisions for asset protection and growth.

Handling Loan Defaults in Non-Regulated Lending

Strategies for Managing Non-Regulated Loan Defaults