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At the end of March, the judiciary concluded that the majority of winding up and bankruptcy hearings which are scheduled to take place in the Business & Property Courts (High Court) from 25 March 2020 onwards would be adjourned until June 2020.
The decision has been taken having taken account of the practicalities of conducting these types of hearings remotely, which it was concluded would not be possible. It is also unsafe at this time for the hearings to physically take place in a court due to social distancing measures.
Hearings for winding-up petitions will be heard in blocks of 20 from 17 June 2020 on a weekly basis. This procedure for dealing with petitions that have been listed over the coming weeks is likely to continue to be applied.
A small number of urgent hearings have still taken place. On 25 March, only 2 urgent winding-up petition hearings went ahead, one by telephone and the other via Skype.
In the latest order from the judiciary, it has been made possible for petitions to be dismissed remotely on the basis of paper applications and a general dismissal list will be created. There have been no changes made to the procedure for withdrawing a petition, which can still be dealt with on paper.
All bankruptcy petition hearings have been adjourned. It will be possible to request for bankruptcy petitions to be heard after 18 June 2020 and they are likely to take place remotely.
If a case is adjourned, parties will be able to apply for the petition to be dismissed or for the petitioner to be substituted.
New Government measures announced at the beginning of April mean that it is likely to be more difficult to successfully bring a winding-up petition during the pandemic. It may be that in the near future, the Government brings in measures to prevent bringing insolvency proceedings until the current crisis eases.
For more on these recent changes, please visit our blog on the effects of COVID-19 changes to insolvency rules to protect businesses here.
If you require any advice on how to overcome the challenges posed by litigating against a company in administration, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Myerson’s experienced Dispute Resolution and Commercial Litigation team. It is important that businesses seek advice as soon as possible to ensure steps can be taken to protect their position, you can contact a member of our Commercial Litigation team on 01619414000 or at firstname.lastname@example.org