Andrew Sutcliffe QC and William Day obtain dismissal in heavily contested insolvency dispute

After a four-day remote trial in May 2020, HHJ Paul Matthews (sitting as a High Court Judge) dismissed the final aspects of the long running insolvency dispute in Brake v Swift and The Chedington Court Estate Limited. Andrew Sutcliffe QC and William Day acted for Chedington instructed by Ian Gatt QC of Stewarts.

The dispute arose out of sales of assets out of the Brakes’ bankruptcies and the liquidation of the related partnership. The issue at trial related to a particular property on an estate in Dorset. The trial judgment ([2020] EWHC 1810 (Ch)) deals with the treatment of property that may fall into partnership liquidation or partner bankruptcy. It is also is likely to become the leading case on section 283A of the Insolvency Act 1986 and the approach to take to a bankrupt’s application for a declaration that property has re-vested in them because it was alleged to be their principal residence at the date of bankruptcy.

Trial was preceded by a number of interlocutory applications from March 2020 by both sides, which saw Andrew Sutcliffe QC and William Day ranked as the joint busiest restructuring and insolvency barristers in the first half of 2020 in The Lawyer litigation tracker. Andrew and William were also successful on all of those interlocutory matters (some of which are now on appeal to the Court of Appeal), which dealt with a number of important points of principle for insolvency applications and more generally:

  • The standing of bankrupts to make applications in their bankruptcies ([2020] EWHC 537 (Ch))
  • The standing of strangers to a liquidation to make applications, and the extent to which their standing can be cured by the support of creditors ([2020] EWHC 538 (Ch))
  • The standing of strangers to an insolvency to respond to an insolvency application ([2020] EWHC 1071 (Ch))
  • The appropriate principles to apply on stay and adjournment applications ([2020] EWHC 694 (Ch))
  • A recusal application for apparent bias ([2020] EWHC 1156 (Ch))