August 14, 2022


Let'S Talk Law

Guernsey cross-border insolvency – helping foreign insolvency office holders

This report 1st appeared in Offshore Pink.

Guernsey is a jurisdiction that is perfectly applied to requests from overseas insolvency business holders for support in gathering in belongings located in Guernsey. Sometimes these requests include support in interviewing previous directors of organizations in an insolvency procedure.

When the require arises for cross-border insolvency proceedings, there are numerous worldwide treaties which allow for the recognition of international insolvency office-holders and the implementation of powers they may wish to training in the domestic jurisdiction.

The two most vital cross border treaties are the Design Regulation (produced by the United Nations Commission on Worldwide Trade), and the Recast European Insolvency Regulation (Recast Regulation) which governs cross-border insolvency in just the European Union.

Guernsey is neither a signatory to the Model Regulation, nor is it a member of the EU. For that reason, Guernsey is essential to comply with the Recast Regulation.

On the other hand, the Royal Courtroom of Guernsey (Royal Court docket), under both a specific treaty with the British isles and below the widespread law, is ready to give help to foreign insolvency business holders exactly where property are held in Guernsey.

The system includes the recognition of the office environment holder by the Royal Court which permits the holder to collect in property in Guernsey and, if vital, get additional methods to shield the assets of the liquidation estate.

There are two methods in which overseas insolvency office holders can get hold of recognition in Guernsey:

  1. less than part 426 of the England and Wales Insolvency Act 1986 (IA 1986) or
  2. less than the prevalent law

Portion 426 of the IA 1986 has been extended to Guernsey via the Insolvency Act 1986 (Guernsey) Order 1989 by an purchase of the Privy Council. The impact of this extension suggests that subsections (4), (5), (10) and (11) of portion 426 are correctly applied in Guernsey. As a result of this incorporation, the Royal Court is permitted to provide judicial help on insolvency issues to several jurisdictions inside of the British Isles, those people staying:

  1. England and Wales
  2. Scotland
  3. Northern Ireland
  4. the Isle of Person
  5. the Bailiwick of Guernsey and
  6. Jersey

In buy to use this route, United kingdom business office holders ordinarily apply to the Court in their possess jurisdiction for an buy, whereby the British isles Courtroom ought to send a letter of request of guidance to the Royal Courtroom in Guernsey. The Royal Court commonly have to comply with these varieties of request, with the only exceptions arising from oppressive results and offending community policy. The benefit that arrives from this reciprocal arrangement is that the Royal Court is permitted to stick to just one of two options: (i) to implement the insolvency rules of Guernsey or (ii) to apply the insolvency law of England and Wales when thought of proper. This offers a good edge to overseas office environment holders trying to find recognition, as it presents a wide discretion to the Royal Court, and can guide exactly where there is no pre-present Guernsey statute, these types of as the deficiency of statutory therapies in Guernsey for transactions at undervalue. On the other hand, amendments to the Providers (Guernsey) Law, 2008, will shortly provide a statutory basis for transactions at undervalue.

Two circumstances which highlight the benefits of the software of area 426 are Slinn and Slinn v Official Receiver and Liquidator of Seagull Producing Organization Restricted, and Batty v Bourse Trust Enterprise Limited.

Slinn was an Alderney-centered situation in which the Court docket of Alderney experienced been requested by an English liquidator for a non-public examination of the directors (resident in Alderney) of an English registered business pursuant to segment 236 of the IA 1986. The Alderney Court held that they had been capable to allow this examination due to the fact portion 426(5) confers authority on the courtroom to implement the insolvency legislation of either Guernsey or Alderney to comparable matters in just its jurisdiction. It was held that this would include things like the energy to buy private exams of administrators and officers of a firm if proper. This was upheld on enchantment despite the argument that the Court docket of Alderney had no electric power to make the purchase due to there getting no equivalent provision in the Firms (Amendment) (Alderney) Legislation, 1962.

In the circumstance of Batty v Bourse, Batty (the applicant) sought for his appointment as liquidator to be recognised as effectively as the recognition of specified declarations and orders. The English Substantial Courtroom issued and despatched to the Royal Court docket a letter of request seeking recognition of the applicant’s appointment, requesting that the Royal Court docket listen to and determine the applicant’s software looking for various heads of relief, and offer these standard guidance as would be considered suitable. The declarations included:

  1. dividends declared had been unlawful distributions pursuant to Aspect 23 of the England and Wales Firms Act 2006 (CA 2006)
  2. certain payments were being transactions at an undervalue as for every the indicating in just part 238 of the IA 1986 and
  3. that the payments previously mentioned amounted to transactions defrauding collectors within the meaning of segment 423 of the IA 1986

The Deputy Bailiff held that the Royal Court had a obligation to guide the proceedings in the English Substantial Court docket pursuant to portion 426 of the IA 1986 as prolonged to Guernsey by the Insolvency Act 1986 (Guernsey) Order 1989. He additional held that, in the absence of any persuasive rationale, the court docket had a responsibility, not simply a discretion, to act in assist of and be auxiliary to the English Higher Court. Subsection 5 of area 426 of the IA 1986 delivered that the court docket could utilize to any of the matters in the ask for, possibly Guernsey insolvency legislation or so substantially of the insolvency law of England and Wales as corresponded to Guernsey insolvency law. Area 426 contains vast powers and allowed the Royal Courtroom to make these kinds of orders as they considered in good shape, giving no matter what guidance it legitimately could.

The payment of a dividend as in declaration (i) above was not permitted by area 830 of the CA 2006 or part 304(1) of the Providers (Guernsey) Legislation, 2008 (CL 2008). The court was well prepared to make a declaration that the payment amounted to an unlawful distribution below Aspect 23 of the CA 2006.

The Royal Court was also organized to make a declaration that the payments manufactured at (ii) ended up transactions at an undervalue in just the meaning of part 238 IA 1986. In addition, it was held that despite the fact that there was no direct Guernsey statutory equivalent, there were a variety of possibilities under Guernsey law to get a related relief, these as a Pauline action (an historic prevalent law cure very similar to area 423 of the Insolvency Act 1986). The Royal Court was also well prepared to declare that the transactions in (iii) defrauded creditors contrary to part 423 of IA 1986.

The draw back to the use of area 426 of IA 1986 is that the office holders in the selected jurisdictions are nevertheless necessary to make the preliminary software to their own jurisdiction’s Courts to obtain the letter of ask for. This can induce the system to be probably much more highly-priced and time consuming and implies, on celebration, that even English-appointed office environment holders will use the common legislation route instead than area 426 of IA 1986.

Whilst the use of segment 426 is helpful for all those in Britain and the Crown Dependencies, any international business office holder that is even further afield cannot use this route owing to there currently being no reciprocity in Guernsey. In get to be recognised in Guernsey and to allow them to look for relief, they would have to count on the common legislation route. This secondary procedure is governed by the “adequate link” exam. The common place is that Guernsey will co-work in the recognition of international insolvency proceedings wherever there is adequate relationship involving an business office holder and the jurisdiction in which they have been appointed.

When there is a enough connection, the Royal Court docket still retains discretion, but will, usually, grant the aid sought. Nevertheless, the availability of reduction is tempered, so that the Guernsey Court docket can not grant relief unless it has a frequent legislation electric power to do so. This principle of modified universalism was mentioned by the Privy Council in the Bermudan conclusion of Singularis.

Singularis Holdings Limited (SHL) was incorporated in the Cayman Islands. When it went into liquidation, the liquidators tried to obtain substance belonging to the firm’s auditors, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). An software was produced to the Bermudan Court docket for the status of the liquidators to be recognised in Bermuda. The Bermudan court then exercised their prevalent regulation energy to order PwC to deliver info which PwC could have been requested to create less than section 195 of the Firms Act 1981 of Bermuda.

The Court of Attraction established apart this get on the basis that it was not an acceptable physical exercise of discretion since this would be an buy created in help of a Cayman liquidation where by these types of an get could not have been manufactured by a Cayman Court docket less than the Cayman Company Legislation. The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council dismissed the attraction.

In the foremost judgment of Lord Sumption, he held that there was a typical legislation energy of guidance which existed, but it was issue to constraints. He located that there was a power at frequent law to support a international court docket by buying the production of details vital for the administration of a overseas winding up. Although this theory of modified universalism presents a power to assist foreign winding up proceeding so considerably as the court properly can, this is subject matter to area legislation and general public coverage.

On top of that, the electrical power was not out there to permit liquidators to do a little something which they could not do less than the regulation by which they were being appointed. The Privy Council uncovered that the frequent legislation electric power of guidance should really not be exercised in favour of the Cayman-appointed liquidators. The product which the liquidators sought in Bermuda would not be obtainable below the laws of the Cayman Islands and so the Privy Council did not consider it to be a right use of the electric power of assistance to allow for Cayman liquidators to get hold of files in Bermuda to which they would not be entitled under Cayman Law.

These ideas were accredited in the Guernsey Royal Court in Brittain v JTC where it was held that for a foreign insolvency office environment holder to provide an action in the Royal Court docket Guernsey should have enacted the equal insolvency laws or have identical popular law powers. In that situation it meant that a liquidator could not find facts beneath the popular law from administrators of a enterprise primarily based in Guernsey mainly because of a deficiency of laws in Guernsey out there to nearby liquidators for an equal info trying to get workout. It is really worth noting that this scenario is due to improve shortly with the introduction of amendments to Guernsey Organization Legislation (outlined previously mentioned) which will permit workplace-holders to search for particular facts from former place of work-holders.

The situation of Lee Douglass presents further perception into troubles influencing cross-border particular individual bankruptcy. An application was designed to recognise the appointment of the joint trustees in individual bankruptcy in Guernsey and for ancillary orders relating to the correct of these trustees to accumulate in money and information. Mr Douglass was, however, previously involved in désastre proceedings in Guernsey (a customary law legal procedure above the Guernsey personalty of an individual whose liabilities exceeds their cash flow). This intended that HM Sheriff experienced previously auctioned off the the vast majority of Mr Douglass’ belongings and was holding the proceeds. The concern remained no matter whether there have been enough assets over which a Royal Courtroom recognition buy could get influence. Because of to the expenditure of getting a letter of ask for from the courtroom in England, the trustees in personal bankruptcy utilized straight to Guernsey for recognition relying on the principle of modified universalism found in the Singularis circumstance. The Deputy Bailiff held that, as the powers to gather in belongings and acquire management around records ended up ordinary implications of recognition, the Royal Court docket would grant aid with no a letter of ask for. On the other hand, the Courtroom held that, beneath Guernsey law, title around the marketed assets had by now handed to the Guernsey collectors and so the trustees had no correct to obtain in those people property.

In conclusion, Guernsey is a jurisdiction that is effectively utilised to working with cross-border difficulties and has formulated practical resources to help foreign workplace holders no matter if underneath area 426 of IA 1986 or under the typical legislation.