Monday, 15 April 2013

UK: England and Wales: assisting a foreign insolvency court and section 426 of the Insolvency Act 1986

The High Court gave judgment last Friday in HSBC Bank v Tambrook Jersey Ltd [2013] EWHC 866 (Ch). The case concerned a request by the Royal Court of Jersey for assistance within section 426 ("Co-operation between courts exercising jurisdiction in relation to insolvency") of the Insolvency Act 1986. Section 426(4) provides that "The courts having jurisdiction in relation to insolvency law in any part of the United Kingdom shall assist the courts having the corresponding jurisdiction in any other part of the United Kingdom or any relevant country or territory".
At issue in the current case was whether assistance could be given where, in Jersey, there were no existing or planned insolvency proceedings. The trial judge, Mann J., held that it could not and stated (at para. [18]):
Without some form of existing or future intended activity by the foreign insolvency court, I do not see how that court is "assisted". Creditors might be; a foreign commercial community might be helped by an English court doing what its own courts cannot do. But that is not enough. It is the foreign insolvency court, in its insolvency jurisdiction, which has to be assisted. The section does not exist to fill in gaps in another jurisdiction's insolvency processes without more. It exists to improve co-operation between actual processes. In the present case, for the reasons given, the Jersey court is not assisted in a relevant way."

Update (24 April 2013) - the ICLR has provided a summary of the decision: see here.

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