English company law and the law of those countries who continue to have analogous law (e.g., Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong-Kong, etc.) may make directors of a company potentially liable to creditors for debts incurred if the company continued to trade while insolvent, i.e., unable to pay its debts in the ordinary course of business, or without a realistic prospect of repaying those debts, i.e., ‘running up bills you know the company cannot pay.’ Wrongful trading or reckless trading, or fraudulent trading, can occur when a company trades while insolvent.
An analogous principle exists in French and Belgian law, action en comblement du passif, while German law permits an action for improperly delaying insolvency proceedings, insolvenzverschleppungshaftung, i.e., allowing a company to continue trading after the point at which the directors should have started bankruptcy proceedings. In some jurisdictions, directors can also face criminal liability for permitting a company to continue trading while insolvent, as well as other sanctions, such as a subsequent bar on becoming a director of another company. See Community of Interest when Bordering Insolvency.