Poulton v Ministry of Justice: CA 22 Apr 2010

The claimant was trustee in bankruptcy but the court failed to register the bankruptcy petition at the Land Registry as a pending action. The bankrupt was therefore able to sell her land, and the trustee did not recover the proceeds. The trustee sought to recover from the defendant who was responsible for the court service.
Held: The defendant’s appeal succeeded. The obligation under rule 6.13 and the court’s practice of complying with it, and would not imply that the court would serve the request itself. The contrasting provisions of the various Acts suggested an obligation to compensate: ‘Parliament had in mind the possibility that creditors might suffer from a failure on the part of the Land Registry to comply with its duties under section 61, and considered that a private claim against the Registry should not be permitted but that compensation should be provided for out of the insurance fund. By contrast, no such provision was made in the Land Charges Act, so that the Chief Land Registrar might be taken to be open to suit for failure under that Act. Equally there was no immunity for the court under rule 149A, so, again, a breach of that duty might be taken to be actionable.’ However, ‘The fact that occasionally there may be a failure due to oversight does not seem to me to be a sufficient reason to find a private remedy for breach of the obligation created by this rule.’ The freedom of the applicant to make an application indicated against giving a private right.
There was no basis for an assertion of a common law duty: ‘this is not a question of a duty of care; it would be a duty to do an act, which is either done or not done, and the complaint would be of failure to do it at all, not of doing it but without proper care and attention. Another is that, absent the obligation imposed by the rule, the petitioning creditor would have every reason to make the request itself, as it would be entitled to do. The only basis for saying that the creditor places reliance on the court is that the rule requires the court to give the notice.’

Pill, Lloyd, Pitchford LJJ
[2010] EWCA Civ 392, [2010] 3 WLR 1237, [2010] BPIR 775, [2011] 1 Ch 1
Land Registration Act 2002, Insolvency Act 1986 284, Insolvency Rules 1986 6.13, Land Charges Act 1972
England and Wales
CitedCutler v Wandsworth Stadium Ltd HL 1949
The Act required the occupier of a licensed racetrack to take all steps necessary to secure that, so long as a totalisator was being lawfully operated on the track, there was available for bookmakers space on the track where they could conveniently . .
CitedX (Minors) v Bedfordshire County Council; M (A Minor) and Another v Newham London Borough Council; Etc HL 29-Jun-1995
Liability in Damages on Statute Breach to be Clear
Damages were to be awarded against a Local Authority for breach of statutory duty in a care case only if the statute was clear that damages were capable of being awarded. in the ordinary case a breach of statutory duty does not, by itself, give rise . .
CitedMinistry of Housing and Local Government v Sharp CA 1970
Mr Sharp was the local land registrar with statutory duty to maintain the local registry, issuing certificates in response to search requests. A clerk who had been seconded by another Council to assist him negligently issued an inaccurate . .
CitedSmith (a bankrupt) v Braintree District Council HL 1989
The House considered the effects of bankruptcy on the imposition of a committal to imprisonment in default of paying rates.
The purpose of section 285 is to preserve the estate of the bankrupt for the benefit of his unsecured creditors.
CitedHM Customs and Excise v Barclays Bank Plc HL 21-Jun-2006
The claimant had served an asset freezing order on the bank in respect of one of its customers. The bank paid out on a cheque inadvertently as to the order. The Commissioners claimed against the bank in negligence. The bank denied any duty of care. . .
CitedGorringe v Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council HL 1-Apr-2004
Statutory Duty Not Extended by Common Law
The claimant sought damages after a road accident. The driver came over the crest of a hill and hit a bus. The road was not marked with any warning as to the need to slow down.
Held: The claim failed. The duty could not be extended to include . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Insolvency, Negligence

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.408567