The number of insolvency cases coming to court rose to 1,142 last year from the previous 1,100, according to figures released by the Official Receiver's Office. Official Receiver Robin Hearder said he considered this figure low compared with overseas in view of the high volume of economic activity in Hong Kong. The figure includes bankruptcies and compulsory liquidations. The office said there were 503 compulsory company liquidations in 1997, against 557 recorded a year ago. In contrast, bankruptcies increased sharply by 17 per cent from 543 in 1996 to 639 last year. At the corporate level the main causes of failure were a decline in business, cash-flow problems, high operating costs and poor management. Meanwhile, the main causes of personal bankruptcies were inability to meet liabilities arising from personal guarantees, cash-flow problems, decline in businesses and excessive use of credit facilities. Industries most vulnerable to liquidation included garment, knitting and textile manufacturing, restaurant and canteen, import and export as well as construction and manufacturing. The figures showed that 33 per cent of the petitions for liquidation were filed by trade creditors, while 30 per cent were from the Director of Legal Aid, 24 per cent from banks and financial institutions. Landlords, shareholders and others made up the rest.