Re Union Accident Insurance Co Ltd: ChD 1972

A provisional liquidator cannot be appointed on a baseless petition. There are two conditions to be met. The first was that the petition must disclose a prima facie case, the second was that there were circumstances that require that a provisional liquidator ought to be appointed. The circumstances were not limited. The fact that the petition was not opposed was one of them. In this case, a prima facie case was established because it was shown that the company could not meet the level of solvency required of insurance companies by statute. The circumstances here required that a provisional liquidator ought to be appointed, and it was in the interest of the public in the fact that sums retained by brokers amounting to a large sum of andpound;300,000 be collected from them. A provisional liquidator was correctly appointed.
It is inappropriate to limit the exercise of the power to appoint a provisional liquidator by restricting it to fixed categories or classes of circumstances or fact, as commercial affairs are complex and circumstances will vary greatly.
Nevertheless, before a winding up order is made, a company’s Board of directors retained certain residuary powers which included the authority to instruct solicitors and counsels to oppose the petition, notwithstanding the appointment of provisional liquidators to the company.
Plowman J explained the twofold approach that he proposed to adopt: ‘There are two matters though, which seem to be relevant for me to consider. The first is whether the department has made out a good prima facie case for a winding-up on the hearing of the petition. Any views I express about the matter now are of course provisional only because I am not trying the petition at the present time. If the department has not made out a good prima facie case for a winding-up order then clearly I think it would not be right to appoint a provisional liquidator. On the other hand, if the department has made out a good prima facie case for a winding-up order then the second matter for my consideration arises, namely, whether in the circumstances of this case it is right that a provisional liquidator should have been appointed.’


Plowman J


[1972] 1 All ER 1105, [1972] 1 WLR 640


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedRevenue and Customs v Rochdale Drinks Distributors Ltd CA 13-Oct-2011
The revenue appealed against refusal of its petition for the winding up of the company for non-payment of a VAT assessment. The company said that the assessment was disputed. The revenue said that the company had been run for the purpose of . .
CitedRevenue and Customs v SED Essex Ltd ChD 14-Jun-2013
Liquidator confirmed despite VAT challege
The Revenue sought the winding up of the company for non-payment of substantial arrears of VAT. The revenue had declined to allow VAT input claims. The company said that the petition was wrong since the debt was genuinely disputed.
Held: The . .
CitedHM Secretary of State for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, Re Order To Wind Up UK Bankruptcy Ltd SCS 31-Mar-2009
Outer House – Court of Session – . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Insolvency, Company

Updated: 15 May 2022; Ref: scu.510891