Strict application of insolvency claim deadlines

An insolvency act application notice was issued on 30 January 2019, which was the deadline for limitation purposes. A first hearing was listed for 9 July 2019 at 11am. Before the application had been served, the hearing was vacated upon further ex-parte application by the applicant and relisted for 15 October 2019.

Rule 12.9 of the Insolvency Rules 2016 requires the Applicant to serve a sealed copy of the application notice endorsed with the date and venue for hearing on the Respondent at least 14 clear days before the date fixed for the hearing of the application.

The Applicant eventually served the substantive application on 6 September 2019; 14 days before the relisted hearing date, but several weeks after the date fixed for the first hearing as endorsed upon the application notice. The Respondent applied to strike out the substantive application for failure to serve it in compliance with r.12.9.

The Court of Appeal concluded that r.12.9 required an applicant to serve the application 14 days before the dated initially fixed for its hearing and endorsed on the application notice. The court favoured an interpretation which led to earlier service rather than later.

The Court also held that the principles applicable under the CPR to an application to extend time for the service of a claim form where limitation had expired also applied to an extension of time for service of an insolvency act application. There was no difference in substance between the position of a claim form not served in accordance with CPR r.7.5 and that of an application notice not served in accordance with r.12.9 of the 2016 Rules.

This decision brings the procedure in insolvency applications in line with the stricter approach to service in the CPR. Insolvency office holders should ensure that an application notice is served without unnecessary delay, particularly where limitation period is close to expiry.

In the matter of Nicola Jane Ide (In Bankruptcy) Sub Nom (1) HH Aluminium & Building Products Ltd (2) Peter Robert House V (1) Sarah Helen Bell (2) Paul Williams (As Joint Trustees In Bankruptcy Of Nicola Jane Ide) [2020]

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