Much like buses; you wait ages for cases involving the appointment of administrators via electronic filing and then four turn up at once

This is yet another recent example of the court being called upon to remedy an error in procedure in the electronic filing of a notice of appointment of administrators.

In this instance, the notice of intention to appointment administrators had been filed electronically by the administrators’ firm at 09:05 on Monday 13 January 2020. The directors of the company then resolved to appoint two individuals as administrators. Schedule B1 of The Insolvency Act 1986 provided that appointment of administrators could not be made after the period of 10 business days after the notice of intention was filed.

Then, on Friday 24 January 2020 at 14:17, the administrators’ firm electronically filed the notice of appointment. However, they had inadvertently filed the notice using a drop-down box that indicated it was for a “New Case” rather than “Existing Case”. The court recognised this mistake and rejected the filing at 16:04 that same day. The firm resubmitted the notice only three minutes later using the existing case. However, the notice was then endorsed with the date 27 January 2020 as the court clerk concluded that it had only been correctly filed after the court office closed at 16:00.

When called upon, the Judge concluded that the selection of the wrong drop-down box could be regarded as a simple error of procedure. Accordingly, it could be cured using the court’s power to remedy errors of procedure under CPR PD51O and CPR Rule 3.10(b). In doing so, the Judge gave regard to the fact that the first (albeit incorrect) filing was made in time; there was no attempt to pay a lesser fee; and the fact that when rejected the filing was corrected within three minutes. 

As there was no suggestion of prejudice to any interested party caused by curing the error, the Judge ruled the original filing on Friday 24 January at 14:17 to be the time which the appointment of the administrators took place.

This case stands to further highlight the need for care and consideration when using electronic filing, especially in the context of administration, but also demonstrates that courts are willing to remedy defects so that substance triumphs over form.

Re Carter Moore Solicitors Ltd [2020] EWHC 186 (Ch)

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