Welcome to our fifth newsletter of 2021
This newsletter is a regular update to all our IP, solicitor and barrister contacts. It contains changes to our growing team, updates on the Manolete business model which we hope will be helpful to you, as well as key judgments and articles of interest.
In this issue:
Join IPOS and Manolete Partners for a Seminar on 25 November - Mediation: Golden opportunity or going through the motions?
BUJ Architects LLP v Investin Quay House Ltd  EWHC 2371 (Ch) by Henry Glen, Manolete Associate Director
Turnaround, Restructuring and Insolvency (TRI) Conference 9 December – Manolete as Headline Sponsor
IPOS and Manolete Partners Seminar
Mediation: Golden opportunity or going through the motions?
IPOS and Manolete Partners Plc are presenting a panel discussion on mediation in insolvency and commercial litigation on 25 November.
Insolvency and Companies Court Judge Catherine Burton will open the event with a keynote speech on the Court's approach to encouraging mediation, followed by a panel discussion chaired by Mark Jackson-Stops. We will hear from senior litigators, insolvency practitioners and mediators on making the most of mediation. The panel will discuss dispute resolution in insolvency and the court's approach to encouraging mediation.
Questions we will be answering include:
Is mediation the answer to insolvency?
Or is it death by compromise?
What works well and what goes wrong when insolvency disputes are mediated?
Jon Lang, Mediator at IPOS Mediation
Emma Thompson, Associate Director at Smith and Williamson
Nick O'Reilly, Licensed Insolvency Practitioner and COO, Manolete Partners
David Leibowitz, Restructuring & Insolvency Partner, Mishcon de Reya LLP
To book your free place, register here.
BUJ Architects LLP v Investin Quay House Ltd  EWHC 2371 (Ch)
On 8 June 2020, the preliminary hearing of a winding-up petition against a Jersey company, Investin Quay House Ltd (“Company”), took place before ICC Judge Mullen in the High Court (“Court”) (“Petition”).
- is registered in Jersey and its principal purpose was to develop a property in London (“Property”);
- ceased trading in 2018 following the sale of the Property and the distribution of the sale proceeds;
- had been ordered to pay the petitioning creditor, BUJ Architects LLP (“Petitioner”), £354,000 by the Technology and Construction Court in November 2019, which debt was not disputed (“Judgment Debt”); and
- was placed into voluntary liquidation in Jersey in June 2021.
The Petition was presented on 27 July 2020, seeking the winding up of the Company under the Insolvency Act 1986. Mr Downer, the Company’s director (“the Director”), had obtained permission from the Royal Court in Jersey to bring an application on the Company’s behalf to injunct the Petitioner from pursuing the petition. The Royal Court declined to grant an injunction on an interim basis and Judge Mullen declined to adjourn this hearing to abide the outcome of the proceedings in Jersey, which were due to take place in August 2021.
Issues before the Court:
The Company opposed the Petition on the basis that:
- Coronavirus had a financial effect on it such that the Court may not make a winding-up order by reason of Schedule 10 of the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 (“CIGA”); and
- The Court has no jurisdiction to make a winding-up order as the Company’s centre of main interests (“COMI”) for the purposes of the recast EU Regulation on Insolvency Proceedings (“EU Regulation”) is in Jersey.
The Judge rejected the Company’s arguments and listed the Petition for hearing on the basis that:
- it is likely that the Court will be able to make a winding-up order having regard to the Coronavirus Test prescribed by paragraph 8 of the Insolvency Practice Direction relating to CIGA (“Coronavirus Test”); and
- he was satisfied the Court has jurisdiction to wind up the company.
The Director gave evidence on behalf of the Company claiming the pandemic had affected his other business interests so he was unable to put the Company in funds for it to satisfy the Judgment Debt. The Director said he had previously settled debts of the Company, however, Counsel for the Petitioner pointed out there was no evidence of the Director having settled any debts of the Company previously.
The Judge found the Director’s claim that he would have funded the Company “remarkably lacking in particularity” and commented he had made “improbable assertions” which could not “simply be accepted at face value in circumstances where the [Judgment Debt] went unpaid for some time prior to the advent of lockdown”. The Judge considered the Director’s evidence to be “purely speculative” and stated:
“It would be necessary for the Company to show prima facie evidence of a prospect that monies would have been provided to it by a third party if coronavirus had not intervened. In this case, that would require at least some evidence of genuine proposals to make such funds available”. [Para. 25]
- the EU Regulation as incorporated into UK law and amended applies to the Petition;
- Jersey is not a member of the EU and is not a Member State for the purposes of the EU Regulation; and
- the COMI of a company is determined objectively and must be ascertainable by third parties, particularly its creditors.
The Judge decided there was “limited weight” which could be put on the fact that the Company held board meetings in Jersey or certain terms of its contract with an English company that provided it with advisory services/administrative functions. Instead, the Judge found factors that are ascertainable to third parties all pointed to its COMI being in England, including that the Company’s:
- purpose was to develop a property located in England (and the development project is held out as a project on the website of “Investin plc”, which gives an English address at the foot of the page);
- contracts were governed by English law and subject to the jurisdiction of the Courts of England and Wales; and
- head office functions were carried out at offices in England.
In any event, the Judge was also satisfied the Court has jurisdiction to wind up the Company as an unregistered company, there being:
- a sufficient connection with the jurisdiction;
- a reasonable possibility that a winding-up order (if made) would benefit the Petitioner; and
- the Court being able to exercise jurisdiction over persons interested in the distribution of the Company’s assets.
Manolete, Headline Sponsor for TRI Conference
Manolete is delighted to resume its headline sponsorship for the Turnaround, Restructuring and Insolvency (TRI) Conference for 2021. The 5th TRI Conference will be held on 9 December at the Bankside Hilton.
The face-to-face event will bring together turnaround specialists, M&A advisors, insolvency practitioners, lawyers and funders to share practical lessons from real-life business rescue case studies. All guidance will be followed to ensure a safe, practical and pleasant experience. To book your place at this year’s conference, please click here to visit the TRI Conference 2021 website.