C Inc Plc v L and Another: QBD 4 May 2001

The plaintiff had obtained judgment against L, only then to find that she claimed that all only apparent assets were held by her on trust for or as agent for her husband who was overseas. The plaintiff therefore now set out to add him, and to claim an asset freezing injunction against him.
Held: The court had power to order the assets of that third party to be frozen, even though they were not a party to the action, and no judgment existed against them. The court also has power to order him to be joined as a party, rather than for proceedings to be issued against him. Even though judgment had been obtained, the parties remained in dispute as to the means of payment, and that dispute remained part of the original proceedings. The word ‘proceedings’ in rule 19(2) should be interpreted widely and extend to circumstances where judgment had been obtained but not yet satisfied. The rule did not require that the disputed issue should be as between the existing parties. The court had the power to join the third party. The purpose of an asset freezing order ‘remains the protection of assets so as to provide a fund to meet a judgment obtained by the claimant in the English Courts’.
The court considered the effect of the decision in Cardile: ‘It seems to me that the High Court of Australia has stated that, in Australia, the assets of a third party can be frozen in aid of enforcing a pending or actual judgment, even where those assets are not beneficially owned by the actual or potential judgment debtor. The necessary precondition for power to make a freezing order over the third party’s assets is that the actual or potential judgment creditor should have some legal right to get at the third party’s funds. However, on my reading of the judgments, particularly pars. 57 and 121, the High Court of Australia is stating that there must be some casual link between the fact that the claimant has obtained a judgment against the principal defendant and thus has a legal right, as a consequence of the liability giving rise to the judgment, to go against the assets of the third party. I will delay deciding whether English law permits the exercise of the freezing order jurisdiction where there is such a casual link until I have considered the remaining two factors I have identified. ‘
and ‘If there is a claim for substantive relief by A against B (whether or not in the English Court), or A has obtained a judgment against B (in the English Court), then the English Court can grant a freezing order against the assets of C. But, generally, it must be arguable that those assets, even if in C’s name, are, in fact, beneficially owned by B.
The crucial question is whether the Court can go one stage further. Does it have the power to grant a freezing order against the assets of C when: (i) A has a substantive right against B (e.g. in the form of a judgment); (ii) the assets of C are not, even arguably, beneficially owned by B. The answer, to my mind, depends on how one interprets the phrases ‘ancillary’ and ‘incidental to and dependent upon’ used by Lords Browne-Wilkinson and Mustill in the Channel Tunnel case. In the Cardile case the High Court of Australia has, effectively, given those phrases a broad interpretation. But, critically, the High Court of Australia held that the right of A to a freezing order against C is dependent upon A having a right against B and that right itself giving rise to a right that B can exercise against C and its assets. Therefore the freezing order sought by A against C is ‘incidental to’ A’s substantive right against B and it is also ‘dependent upon’ that right.’


Aikens J


Times 04-May-2001, [2001] 2 Lloyds Law Reports 459, [2001] 2 All ER (Comm) 446


Civil Procedure Rules 19.4(2)(a), 6.30(2), 6.20(3)


CitedCardile v LED Builders PTY Limited 1999
(High Court of Australia) The respondent (‘LED’) twice sought relief from Eagle Homes PTY Limited (‘Eagle’) for copyright infringement. Anticipating the proceedings the only shareholders and controllers of Eagle, the claimants arranged the . .

Cited by:

CitedSiskina (owners of Cargo lately on Board) v Distos Compania Naviera SA HL 1979
An injunction was sought against a Panamanian ship-owning company to restrain it from disposing of a fund, consisting of insurance proceeds, in England. The claimant for the injunction was suing the company in a Cyprus court for damages and believed . .
CitedHM Revenue and Customs v Egleton and others ChD 19-Sep-2006
The claimants had applied for the winding up of a company for very substantial sums of VAT due to it. Anticipating that hearing, it now sought restraining orders against the director defendants, alleging that there had been a carousel or missing . .
CitedTrade Credit Finance No Ltd and Another v Bilgin and others ComC 3-Nov-2004
. .
CitedMesser Griesheim Gmbh v Goyal Mg Gases Pvt Ltd ComC 7-Feb-2006
The claimant sought to have set aside its own judgment obtained by default so as to apply for a second judgment. The first would not be enforceable abroad against the defendant, because a default judgment was not enforceable in India. The second . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Jurisdiction, Litigation Practice

Updated: 19 May 2022; Ref: scu.78800