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UK Government announces amendments to insolvency laws

09 April 2020
The Temporary Insolvency Practice Direction clarifies issues that have arisen following the COVID-19 pandemic. It is applicable to all insolvency proceedings in the Business and Property Courts (B&PCs) and is effective from 6 April to 1 October 2020, unless amended or revoked in the meantime.

1) Filing notices of intention to appoint (NOI) and notices of appointment of administrator (NOA)

The Temporary Insolvency Practice Direction (TIPD) clarifies the position for out of hours filing of NOI and NOA. Where filed through the court's electronic filing service (CE-filing), the notice will be deemed delivered to the court at the time and date recorded in the filing submission email. 

Where an NOI or an NOA is filed outside normal court hours (10:00 to 16:00 on any day the court is open for business), it shall be treated as delivered to the court at 10:00 on the day the court is next open for business. For NOIs, the 10 business day period to file the NOA will start running from the date deemed delivered.

The TIPD does not apply to qualifying floating charge holder (QFCH) applications to file NOI and so filing of an NOI outside normal court hours, must be done by the fax or email process. QFCH applications to file NOAs can however be e-filed outside of court hours.

2) Bankruptcy and winding up petitions

All bankruptcy and winding up petition hearings will continue to be heard by Insolvency and Companies Court Judges (ICCJs) in the B&PC. Regional B&PCs are expected to follow suit in due course with guidance notes to be issued by supervising judges online.

Hearings will be conducted remotely using Skype for Business or other teleconferencing facilities, as agreed by the parties and the court. The court will allocate time slots for groups of 2 or more petitions and the links to the designated time slots will be published on the daily list.

Where a person intends to appear on any petition hearing, they must deliver a notice of intention to appear, providing an email address and telephone number in order to be invited to join the hearing. Where possible, the court will send parties an invitation to a Skype for Business call or arrange a recordable telephone conference before the allocated hearing.

3) Adjournment of pending applications and petitions

All other insolvency applications, petitions and claim forms currently listed for hearing in the B&PCs before 21 April 2020 are adjourned and to be relisted. If the courts remain effectively closed beyond this due to an extended lockdown, we anticipate the date to be extended. Parties to proceedings should therefore monitor the situation.

Where a party considers a matter that has been adjourned to be urgent, an email should be sent to ICC Judges' clerk at Rolls.ICL.Hearings1@justice.gov.uk or the relevant High Court Judge's clerk detailing:

  • the nature of the application and why it is urgent;
  • the estimated time for the hearing and pre-reading;
  • number of parties attending; and
  • confirmation that the hearing can proceed remotely.

4) Remote statutory declarations 

The TIPD provides that parties may swear statutory declarations relating to insolvency procedures by ways other than in person, in light of the social distancing measures.

A statutory declaration can be sworn in the presence of a person authorised to administer the oath by video conference. The person administering the oath must attest that the statutory declaration was made in accordance with the TIPD and the declaration must state that it was sworn in such manner.

If contested by another party, the TIPD allows the court to intervene and find that lack of physical presence in the process of making a statutory declaration has not itself caused a substantial injustice.

If you have any queries regarding the above or any restructuring or insolvency queries during this difficult time please do not hesitate to contact the writer Ashley Jaques on 0113 261 6575 or by email to ashley.jaques@dwf.law.

Further Reading