The number of corporate insolvencies rose slightly in the first quarter of this year compared to the final quarter of 2018, new figures from Deloitte show.

Corporate insolvencies rose to 195 in the first three months of 2019, up marginally from 188 insolvencies recorded in the last three months of 2018.

Deloitte said the prevalence of creditors’ voluntary liquidations (CVLs) was apparent, accounting for 73% of the total number of corporate insolvencies in the three month period. 

It also said the number of court liquidations nearly doubled from 13 cases in Q1 2018 to 24 (12%) in Q1 2019, while corporate receiverships declined to 21 from 52 in the same period last year. 

Meanwhile, examinership continues to remain at extremely low levels with only eight appointments, or 4% of the total, in the three months to the end of March. 

The services sector once again recorded the highest level of insolvencies accounting for 42% of corporate insolvencies in the first quarter of the year. 

Within this sector, companies operating in the financial sector have been the most prone to insolvency during the period.

Out of the 82 corporate insolvencies recorded in the services sector in Q1 2019, 17 related to companies operating in the financial services sector. 

The construction sector again followed the services sector as having the second highest level of corporate insolvencies in the quarter under review at 29, and making up 15% of total insolvencies.

But Deloitte said this was a notable decrease on the same time in 2018 when insolvencies of construction companies totalled 43 and accounted for 24% of corporate insolvencies in that period.

Further analysis of the insolvencies in the first quarter of the year reveal that 79% of companies entering an insolvency process were incorporated more than five years ago. 

Deloitte said that 21% of all insolvencies recorded in the quarter relate to companies less than five years old.

It added that 27% are in the 5-10 years bracket, 26% in the 10-20 years bracket, 11%  in the 20-30 years bracket, 7% in the 30-40 years bracket and 8% are over 40 years old. 

"The figures suggest that the steady decrease in corporate insolvencies observed over the last number of years may be levelling out," commented David Van Dessel, Partner, Financial Advisory at Deloitte.

Noting the largest cohort of companies entering a formal insolvency process are companies in the 5-20 year old age bracket, Mr Van Dessel said this may indicate that lingering debt issues and an inability to turnaround poor trading results after the economic crash in 2008 and subsequent years are still having an impact. 

"It is also interesting to note that all corporate receiverships recorded in Q1 2019 (21) occurred in companies over 10 years old, further pointing to the trend of lingering legacy bank debt continuing to play a prominent role in corporate insolvencies," he added.

Today's figures show that the incidence of corporate insolvencies has remained broadly consistent over the course of the last year. 

The highest number of corporate insolvencies recorded in the first quarter of 2019 relate to Leinster at 130, with Munster at 39, Connacht at 21 and 5 in Ulster. 

Looking ahead, Mr Van Dessel said there is little evidence to suggest that the total corporate insolvency figure will not remain in or around 800 for the full year, which is more than double the incidence of corporate insolvency experienced before the recession of 2008.

But he cautioned that these figures leave aside "the unknown that is Brexit".