Atrium Traing Services Ltd; Smailes and Another v McNally and Others: ChD 27 Sep 2013

Liquidators of the company brought proceedings alleging fraudulent trading and trading whilst insolvent by its former directors. An application was made for an in-time application for an extension of time for disclosure.
Held: The Court should scrutinise an application for extension more rigorously than before the Jackson reforms and must firmly discourage any easy assumption that an extension would be granted simply on the ground that it would not involve prejudice to the other side. Even so the application succeeded.
Henderson J said: ‘On the other hand I think it is important not to go to the other extreme, and not to encourage unreasonable opposition to extensions which are applied for in time and which involve no significant fresh prejudice to the other parties. In cases of that nature, considerations of cost and proportionality are highly relevant, and the wider interests of justice are likely to be better served by a sensible agreement, or a short unopposed hearing, than by the adoption of entrenched positions and the expenditure of much money and court time in preparing for and dealing with an application that could have been avoided.
I would also observe that, although all court orders mean what they say, and must be complied with even if made by consent, there are some orders relating to the completion of specified stages in preparation for trial (such as disclosure, the exchange of witness statements or a timetable for expert evidence) where there may still be so many imponderables when the order is made that the date for compliance cannot sensibly be regarded as written in stone. Everything will always depend on the circumstances of the particular case, and the stage in the proceedings when the order is made, but in many such cases it should be understood that there may be a need for reasonable extensions of time or other adjustments as the matter develops. It would, I think, be unfortunate if the new and salutary emphasis on compliance with orders were to lead to a situation where, in cases of the general type I have described, a reasonable request for an extension were to be rejected in the hope that the court might be persuaded to refuse any extension at all.’


Henderson J


[2013] EWHC 2882 (Ch)




Insolvency Act 1986 213 214


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedKaneria v Kaneria and Others ChD 15-Apr-2014
The parties were embroiled in a company dispute with allegations of conduct prejudicial to minority shareholders. An application was now made for sanctions for a failure to comply with court directions.
Held: Unless and until a higher Court . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Insolvency, Litigation Practice

Updated: 30 November 2022; Ref: scu.516285