As a general rule a bankruptcy petition should be presented to the appropriate court closest to the debtor’s home or place of business. In the event that the debtor is subject to an individual voluntary arrangement the petition should be presented in the court which has conduct of the individual voluntary arrangement.
Prior to April 2011 the High Court had jurisdiction over all bankruptcy cases within the London Insolvency District. With effect from 6 April 2011 jurisdiction over lower value bankruptcy matters (£50,000) was transferred to the Central London County Court.
Bankruptcy proceedings must be commenced in the High Court if:
- the petition is presented by a Government department and the petition is based upon an unsatisfied execution or it is indicated in the statutory demand their intention to petition in the High Court; or
- the debtor against whom the petition is presented has resided or carried on business within the London insolvency district for the greater part of the 6 months immediately preceding the presentation of the petition or for a greater part of those 6 months than any other insolvency district; or
- the debtor is no longer resident in England or Wales but was resident or carried on business in England and Wales within the 6 months immediately preceding the presentation of the petition and the debtor either carried on business or resided in the London insolvency district for a longer period in those 6 months than in any other insolvency district; or
- the debtor is not resident in England or Wales and has not carried on business in England and Wales within the 6 months immediately preceding the presentation of the petition; or
- the petitioning creditor is unable to ascertain the residence or place of business of the debtor.
The High Court Registrars were concerned that the use of the C-File system in court for petitions in the multiple bankruptcy list was not operating satisfactorily, accordingly the Chief Bankruptcy Registrar has issued guidance to be followed for petitions in the multiple bankruptcy list. Bankruptcy hearings in the multiple lists should be dealt with in line with Practice Direction 51O – The Electronic Working Pilot Scheme.
Practice Direction 51O came into operation on 16 November 2015, initially for two years. As a result Chief Bankruptcy Registrar Stephen Baister sent out a note entitled “Electronic filing in the Bankruptcy and Companies Court (Rolls Building) to give guidance to practitioners to the Practice Direction. However from 1 November 2016 bankruptcy hearings and multiple lists in the Bankruptcy and Companies Court (Rolls Building) should now be dealt with in line with Practice Direction 51O and the new guidance referred to above which took effect on 1 November 2016.
Anyone presenting a petition pursuant to Practice Direction 51O will need to follow the guidance summarised below.
Three working days before the first hearing of any bankruptcy petition, the petitioning creditor should lodge a bundle containing the statutory demand and evidence of service, the petition and evidence of service (including any order for substituted service and any extension order served).
The petitioning creditor will also need to provide the Registrar at the hearing with an attendance sheet incorporating the certificate of continuing debt. The list of supporting creditors and opposing creditors along with any relevant documents will also need to be provided at the hearing. The court will retain the bundle for any adjourned hearing until the petition is either dismissed or a Bankruptcy Order is made.
It will not be necessary to file a further bundle if the papers were in order at the first hearing, additional papers may be filed to complete the bundle.
Anyone issuing a bankruptcy petition in the High Court to which Practice Direction 51O applies should follow the guidance to ensure that the petition can be dealt with expeditiously.
Mayo Wynne Baxter have experience of issuing petitions in the High Court for both bankruptcy and winding up of companies and can offer a fixed fee service. Should you wish to discuss the above please do not hesitate to contact either Darren Stone or William Backhouse at Mayo Wynne Baxter on 01273 775533.