Can a trustee in bankruptcy obtain information cross-border?

The English Court has jurisdiction to order that a European Bank discloses information regarding the affairs of a bankrupt.

The bankrupt was a Russian domiciled in the UK.  The Trustees had made limited recoveries for the estate, and there were ongoing possession proceedings in respect of properties believed to be beneficially owned by the Bankrupt.

The Trustees applied for an order pursuant to section 366(1)(c) of the Insolvency Act 1986 that AS Citadele Banka, a Latvian bank (“the Bank”), provide information regarding the bankrupt’s dealings, affairs and property. 

Following modifications to the draft order, the Bank did not oppose the application.  Notwithstanding that the application was unopposed, the court had to be satisfied of its jurisdiction to make the order and that it was appropriate to do so in all the circumstances.

The court held that an order made under section 366 would be recognised in Latvia under the terms of the Council Regulation (EC) No 1346/2000 on Insolvency Proceedings (as recast).  The order would not breach Latvian law unless manifestly contrary to Latvian public policy.  This was a question for the Latvian courts, and did not need to be answered before the order could be made.

The court went on to consider the reasonableness of the disclosure request.  The Trustees neutralised concerns raised by the Bank about the cost and time of collating the information and documents sought by agreeing to pay the Bank’s reasonable costs.  Likewise, the Trustees negated accusations of being on a fishing expedition by sufficiently particularising the information sought.

Re Shlosberg (also known as Willmont v AS Citadele Banka) [2018] EWHC 603 (Ch)

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