Re Bugle Press Ltd: CA 2 Jan 1961

Shareholders with over 90% of the issued shares sought to acquire the remaining shares, and create another company to do so. That company offered to purchase the shares at a valuation. The majority shareholders accepted but the minority shareholder refused. The new company gave notice to exercise the statutory power of compulsory acquisition under the section. The minority shareholder said that the transferee was not entitled to acquire his shares despite the approval of 9/10ths of the shareholder, and said the offer undervalued his shares. The majority did not file any evidence verifying their valuation. The court at first instance granted the declaration, saying the connection between the acquiring company and the majority shareholders was an exception.
Held: Upholding the declaration, the constitution of the acquiring company and its connection with the majority shareholders rendered this a special case where the normal rule as to the burden of proof did not apply. ”But if the minority shareholder shows, as he shows here, that the offeror and the ninety per cent of the transferor company’s shareholders are the same, then as it seems to me he has prima facie shown that the court ought to order otherwise, since if it should not so do the result would bethat the section has been used not for the purpose of any scheme or contract properly so called or contemplated by the section, but for the quite different purpose of enabling majority shareholders to expropriate or evict the minority’ Lord Justice Harman:- ‘The minority shareholders advisers waived that objection also, and he having applied to the court under the section had, like any other applicant, to prove his case, that is to say to set up a case which the respondents had to answer. He did that quite simply by showing that the transferee company was nothing but a little hut built round his two co-shareholders, and that the so-called ‘scheme’ was made by themselves as directors of that company with themselves as shareholders and the whole thing, therefore, is seen to be a hollow sham. It is then for the transferee company to show that nevertheless there is some good reason why the scheme should be allowed to go on. The transferee company, whether because the two members did not wish to go into the witness-box and be cross-examined or for some other reason, did not file any evidence at all; they merely purported to rely on a copy of a valuation said to have been made on their behalf by a firm of chartered accountants. That valuation was not sworn to, nobody has been able to cross-examine the authors of it and there was in my judgment no case in answer. The minority shareholder has nothing to knock down; he has only to shout and the walls of Jericho fall flat. I am surprised that it was thought that so elementary a device would receive the court’s approval.’


Lord Evershed MR, Lord Justice Harman


[1961] Ch 270


Companies Act 1948 209


England and Wales


Appeal fromRe Bugle Press Ltd ChD 1961
Two shareholders held more than 90% of the issued shares of the company. To get rid of the holder of the remaining shares, they incorporated another company for the purpose of acquiring all the shares of the company. The acquiring company offered to . .

Cited by:

CitedIn the Matter of British American Racing (Holdings) Limited; In the Matter of the Insolvency Act 1986 ChD 16-Dec-2004
The company raced in the Formula 1 series. Its main sponsors had been British American Tobacco, but because of restrictions of tobacco advertising, the company lost substantial revenue and fell in to loss, and entered into an individual voluntary . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 06 June 2022; Ref: scu.221020