An application had been made by the Bank of Scotland Plc and the governor and company of the Bank of Ireland for a letter of request to be sent by the Royal Court of Jersey to the High Court of England and Wales in respect of four Jersey companies that were ultimate beneficial owners of English real estate.

The applicants were substantial creditors of REO (Powerstation) Limited. The Bank of Scotland was a significant creditor of the other three companies - REO (Site Assembly) Limited, REO (88 Kirtling St) Limited and REO (8 Brooks Court) Limited.

A letter of request seeking administration orders under the Insolvency Act 1986 was requested in relation to the REO companies on the basis that their main assets were, directly or indirectly, real estate in London. While it would be possible to have the companies declared en désastre in Jersey, the court held that there would be considerable advantage in appointing London-based administrators operating within an administration order granted by the High Court.(1)

The question arose as to whether the Royal Court of Jersey had jurisdiction to make such a request.


The court had previously made numerous applications to UK courts pursuant to Section 122 of the Bankruptcy Act 1914, as well as having received requests from other courts for assistance pursuant to Article 49 of the Bankruptcy (Désastre) (Jersey) Law 1990. The deputy bailiff assumed (such assumption being confirmed by Re A Debtor, Ex Parte Viscount of the Royal Court of Jersey [1981]) that if the Royal Court could give assistance to the courts of Australia, Finland, Guernsey, the Isle of Man and the United Kingdom (as prescribed in the Désastre Law), then unless there was good reason to the contrary, those countries or territories could give assistance to the Jersey court.

The difference here was that no form of désastre was present, and indeed it was because it was argued that it would not be in the best interests of the companies or the creditors for a désastre to be declared that an administration order was sought. However, the United Kingdom is a prescribed country for the purposes of giving assistance to courts outside Jersey and the deputy bailiff considered that although it may not have been a désastre case that was being considered, there was certainly reason why it may have anticipated that such a request would receive sympathetic consideration.

The considerations of the court went to support two propositions:

  • The court does lend its assistance in appropriate cases to a process by which formal proceedings against a debtor can be suspended in order to achieve an orderly realisation of the debtor's assets.
  • Generally, in insolvency matters, the court has in the past exercised an inherent jurisdiction in a number of different respects.

It seemed clear from previous case law that the court should contemplate issuing a letter of request if it was in the interests of the creditors, the debtor or the public. The reputation of Jersey was also considered within these terms.

Regard was given to Paragraph 3 of Schedule B1 of the Insolvency Act, which sets out a 'hierarchy of objectives' whereby:

"the administrator of a company must perform his functions with the objective of: (a) rescuing the Company as a going concern; (b) achieving a better result for the Company's creditors as a whole than would be likely if the company were wound up (without first being in administration); or (c) realising property in order to make a distribution to one or more secured or preferential creditors".

Although it was agreed that the first two of these objectives were also objectives of the Remises de Biens (under the Loi (1839) sur les Remises de Biens, which establishes a process by which a debtor can surrender its assets into the control of the court where it hopes to achieve a more orderly administration of its estate for the benefit of ordinary creditors), the court was satisfied that it was entirely proper for the Royal Court to issue a letter of request to the High Court of England and Wales seeking administration orders under the Insolvency Act in relation to the companies.

It was agreed that such an application was consistent with the approach that the Royal Court would have taken on a comparable process were it to take place in Jersey. The letter of request was therefore issued.


This is a helpful case for setting out the circumstances under which the Royal Court will be prepared to issue letters of request to the High Court in England for assistance under the Insolvency Act.

For further information on this topic please contact Nick Williams at Ogier by telephone (+44 1534 514 000) or email ([email protected]). The Ogier website can be accessed at www.ogier.com.


(1) REO (Powerstation) Limited and Others, December 7 2011, JRC 232A.