As a legal concept, administration is a procedure under the insolvency laws of a number of common law jurisdictions, similar to bankruptcy in the United States. It functions as a rescue mechanism for insolvent entities and allows them to carry on running their business. The process – in the United Kingdom colloquially called being "under administration" – is an alternative to liquidation or may be a precursor to it. Administration is commenced by an administration order.
A company in administrative receivership is operated by an administrator (as interim chief executive with custodial responsibility for the company's assets and obligations) on behalf of its creditors. The administrator may recapitalize the business, sell the business to new owners, or demerge it into elements that can be sold and close the remainder.
Most countries distinguish between voluntary (board-decided) and involuntary (court-decided) receivership. In voluntary administrative receivership, the administrator is appointed by the company directors. In involuntary administrative receivership, the administrator is appointed by a judicial court. The legal terms for these processes vary from country to country, and the processes may overlap.