Insolvency Practice Direction support during COVID-19
With effect from 6 April 2020, a new Temporary Practice Direction Supporting the Insolvency Practice Direction has been introduced “to provide workable solutions for court users during the current COVID-19 pandemic”.
The Insolvency Practice Direction applies to all insolvency proceedings throughout the Business and Property Courts, subject to any variations outside London as directed by the relevant supervising judge, and will remain in force until 1 October 2020 unless amended or revoked in the meantime.
The Insolvency Practice Direction provides guidance and clarity on the following matters:
Paragraph 3: CE-filing for out-of-court appointments of administrators
Note: A different practice will apply depending on whether the notice or appointment is made by a qualifying floating charge holder or a by company or its directors.
Paragraph 4: Adjournment and re-listing of all matters currently listed before 21 April 2020, save for bankruptcy and winding-up petitions before ICC Judges.
Paragraph 5: Listing urgent hearings before High Court Judges and ICC Judges.
Requests for urgent hearings can be made via email to the ICC Judges’ clerks.
Paragraph 6: Remote hearings
Unless ordered otherwise, all insolvency hearings will be conducted remotely by way of Skype for Business or such other technology as the parties and the Court agree in advance of the hearing. If the judge determines, for whatever reason, that it is inappropriate to continue the hearing, a notice of adjournment will be issued by the Court.
Paragraph 7: A Temporary Listing Procedure for bankruptcy and winding-up petitions
The Court will allocate time slots for groups of 2 or more petitions and provide a designated meeting link using Skype for Business, or such other video conferencing technology as the relevant Court decides. The links will be published on the daily cause list. The onus is on the parties to ensure they are able to utilise the link provided.
Paragraph 8: Arrangements for other insolvency hearings
Wherever possible the Court will propose a Skype for Business (or other video conferencing technology) call. If the parties disagree with the Court’s proposed method of hearing, they may make submissions in writing by email or CE-file (if available), copied to the other parties, as to what other proposal would be more appropriate. The Judge will make a determination as to the way in which the hearing will take place, and give all other necessary directions with may include a short remote case management conference.
Paragraph 9: Statutory declarations under Schedule B1 of the Insolvency Act 1986 –
Specific provision is made for statutory declarations to be made by video conference.
The above is intended as a brief guide only and parties are encouraged to carefully study the Insolvency Practice Direction and/or take advice as the particular circumstances of their matter.
We are here to offer advice and assistance through these turbulent times. If you wish to discuss any aspect of insolvency (personal or business) or any issues arising from this article, please contact John Bradshaw or Sarah Mower, dedicated insolvency specialists in our Insolvency & Business Recovery Team.
Sarah Mower specialises in business insolvency and restructuring within the Business Services department at Barker Gotelee Solicitors in Suffolk.