National Westminster Bank Plc v Spectrum Plus Ltd and others: ChD 15 Jan 2004

The company granted a debenture to the claimant purporting to secure its book debts. The company went into liquidation. The liquidator challenged the bank’s charge.
Held: Siebe was wrongly decided. The charge was ineffective over the book debts.

Vice Chancellor Andrew Morritt
[2004] 2 WLR 783, [2004] 1 All ER 981, [2004] BCC 51, [2004] 1 BCLC 335, [2004] EWHC 9 (Ch)
England and Wales
DoubtedSiebe Gorman and Co Ltd v Barclays Bank Ltd ChD 1979
It was possible to create a fixed charge over present and future book debts and on its true construction, the debenture granted to Barclays Bank Ltd in this case had done so. If the chargor of book debts, having collected the book debts, ‘[had] had . .
CitedAgnew and Kevin James Bearsley v The Commissioner of Inland Revenue, and Official Assignee for the Estate In Bankruptcy of Bruce William Birtwhistle and Mark Leslie Birtwhistle PC 5-Jun-2001
(New Zealand) A charge had been given by a company over its book debts. The charge was expressed to create a fixed charge over debts uncollected when a receiver was appointed, so that on collection they became payable to the bank. Until the receiver . .
CitedHadley Industries Plc v Metal Sections Limited, Metsec (UK) Limited PatC 13-Nov-1998
A court no longer has the discretion as to whether to amend a patent upon application, but must, following European practice, do so when a proper application is made. This is the case despite the clear wording of the English Act. A judge at first . .
CitedIn re Yorkshire Woolcombers Association Ltd CA 2-Jan-1903
Nature of Company’s Debenture Charge
The court considered the nature of a debenture charge. Romer LJ said: ‘I certainly do not intend to attempt to give an exact definition of the term ‘floating charge’, nor am I prepared to say that there will not be a floating charge within the . .
CitedIn re Yorkshire Woolcombers Association Ltd ChD 1903
Farwell J said: ‘A charge on all book debts which may now be, or at any time hereafter become charged or assigned, leaving the mortgagor or assignor free to deal with them as he pleases until the mortgagee or assignee intervenes, is not a specific . .
CitedIllingworth v Houldsworth HL 1904
A clause in a floating charge allowing a company to continue to trade in the assets charged: ‘contemplates not only that it should carry with it the book debts which were then existing, but it contemplates also the possibility of those book debts . .
CitedTailby v Official Receiver HL 1888
A creditor can create, for good consideration an equitable charge over book debts which will attach to them as soon as they come into existence.
Lord Macnaghten said: ‘It was admitted by the learned counsel for the respondent, that a trader . .
DoubtedChalk v Kahn 2000
. .
DoubtedRe Armagh Shoes Ltd 1984
. .
DoubtedIn Re Keenan Bros Ltd 1986
(Supreme Court of the Republic of Ireland) A debenture conferred a fixed charge on book debts. It specifically provided that withdrawals from the account to which the proceeds of the book debts had to be credited might only be made with the prior . .
DoubtedBarclays Bank plc v Willowbrook International Ltd 1987
. .
DoubtedRe Permanent Houses (Holdings) Ltd 1988
. .
CoubtedRe Sperrin Textiles Ltd 1992
. .
DoubtedIn Re Portbase Clothing Ltd; Mould v Taylor 1993
The company had given two debentures, one fixed and one floating. Their priority was fixed by a deed of priority. On insolvency the liquidator sought direction as to the application of the assets.
Held: The deed made the bank’s floating charge . .
DoubtedWilliam Gaskell Ltd v Highley 1994
. .
CitedIn re Brightlife Ltd ChD 1987
Parties contractual freedom to be respected
A clause in a debenture gave a charge which provided that the chargor should not: ‘deal with its book or other debts or securities for money otherwise than in the ordinary course of getting in and realising the same which expression shall not . .
CitedRe: A Company (No. 005009 of 1987), ex parte Copp ChD 1988
MC Bacon Ltd had borrowed money from a bank. The loan was unsecured. The company got into financial difficulty. The bank commissioned a report on the company’s financial affairs; and insisted on the grant of a debenture to secure the company’s . .
ApprovedSupercool Refrigeration and Air Conditioning v Hoverd Industries Ltd 1994
(New Zealand) The court noted a greater reluctance in Australia and Ireland than in England to accept the creation of a fixed charge over present and future book debts.
Tompkins J said:’ a requirement to pay the proceeds of the book debts . .
CitedRe Warden and Hotchkiss Ltd CA 1945
Judicial decisions upon which title to property depends or which, by establishing principles of construction or otherwise, form the basis of contracts or which affect the general conduct of affairs so that their alteration would mean, for example, . .
CitedIn Re New Bullas Trading Ltd CA 12-Jan-1994
A company debenture, which purported to create a fixed charge on book debts, and a second floating charge over the proceeds when paid, was valid and effective to create a fixed charge. The chargee was not a bank, and therefore no facility could be . .
CitedStreet v Mountford HL 6-Mar-1985
When a licence is really a tenancy
The document signed by the occupier stated that she understood that she had been given a licence, and that she understood that she had not been granted a tenancy protected under the Rent Acts. Exclusive occupation was in fact granted.
Held: . .

Cited by:
Appeal fromNational Westminster Bank Plc v Spectrum Plus Ltd; In re Spectrum Plus CA 26-May-2004
The court was asked whether a charge given over book debts in a debenture was floating or fixed.
Held: Since the charge asserted some control over receipt of the payments, it was a fixed charge. Upon payment into the account, title to the . .
At First InstanceNational Westminster Bank plc v Spectrum Plus Limited and others HL 30-Jun-2005
Former HL decision in Siebe Gorman overruled
The company had become insolvent. The bank had a debenture and claimed that its charge over the book debts had become a fixed charge. The preferential creditors said that the charge was a floating charge and that they took priority.
Held: The . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Insolvency, Banking

Updated: 13 December 2021; Ref: scu.191233