The High Court decision of Official Assignee v Norris  NZHC 961 examined whether the Official Assignee could apply for orders relating to Mr Norris' actions as liquidator of multiple companies, and whether adequate notice of his alleged failure to comply with his duties as a liquidator had been given.
Section 284 of the Companies Act 1993 provides for Court supervision of liquidations. The Official Assignee is not able to make an application for relief under this section in respect of the actions of a liquidator. The Court held that the pleadings could be amended to make the claim under the Court's inherent jurisdiction, but the judge had serious doubts as to whether this would survive strike out. The parts of the claim specifically relying on section 284 were struck out, and the parts that appeared to rely on section 284 were ordered to be re-pleaded on an alternative basis or would also not survive.
The Official Assignee had purported to give notice to Mr Norris of his failure to comply with the duties of a liquidator by providing a letter together with a draft statement of claim. It was held that any notice under section 286 must inform the liquidator of the duty breached and how this breach occurred so that the liquidator could determine what action to take to remedy this, and therefore avoid Court action. Neither the letter nor the relief sought in the statement of claim clearly set out the breaches or required actions to remedy, so notice had not been provided under section 286.
A third issue was whether a liquidator could be held to have breached the standard of a continuing failure to comply where companies had been struck off the Register. The judge found that the duties of a liquidator exist even after a company has been struck off, as if they have been breached, they may still be capable of being a continuing failure and therefore being remedied. This is confirmed by section 279 which explicitly does not limit sections 284 and 286.
See court decision here.