1. Corporate bodies (limited companies or LLPs) have a separate legal identity that ceases to exist upon dissolution. Dissolution can occur, broadly speaking, in two ways, one is at the end of the process of winding up (whether voluntary or compulsory) and the other is by the process of striking off the Register of Companies
or limited liability partnerships. The latter occurs either as a result of the company’s
or LLP’s failure to file accounts, returns etc. or by a process of voluntary striking off.
2. In any of these cases, the company or LLP once dissolved ceases to exist. This gives
rise to the problem of what to do if the company or LLP is a necessary party to
personal injury litigation. Matters have been made much easier since the coming into
effect of the Companies Act 2006. The provisions of that Act in relation to
restoration of companies to the Register apply equally in modified form to LLPs by
virtue of the Limited Liability Partnerships (Application of Companies Act 2006)
3. Under the old regime, there were cases where until the company (or LLP) was
restored to the Register, it was not possible to issue proceedings. Any proceedings
that were issued against a company or LLP that had been dissolved were held to be a 2
nullity and would not be retrospectively validated by the subsequent restoration of the
company or LLP to the Register.
4. That is no longer the case. The effect of sections 1028 and 1032 Companies Act 2006
as applied to companies and LLPs is that the subsequent restoration of a company or
LLP to the Register will retrospectively validate any proceedings issued against that
company or LLP whilst dissolved.
5. That was established in Goddrell v. Peakstone Limited (2012) EWCA Civ. 1035
(2013) 1 AER 13. In that case the Court of Appeal further held that service of the
claim form on the former registered office of the dissolved company would be
validated by the order for restoration as well as the issue of the proceedings.
6. Where a company (or LLP) has been struck off the Register and dissolved for failing
to file accounts or returns, the application is made under section 1024 Companies Act
2006, but that application can only be made by a former director or former member
and there is a time limit of 6 years from the date of dissolution. The application is an
administrative process in comparison to an application to court under section 1029,
where the class of applicants is much wider and includes anyone who has a claim
against the company or LLP and pursuant to section 1030(1), the application can be
brought at any time for the purpose of bringing proceedings against the company (or
LLP) for damages for personal injury.
7. Section 1030(2) goes on to provide that the court shall not make an order on such an
application if it appears to the court that the proceedings would fail by virtue of any 3
enactment as to the time within which proceedings must be brought. It is clear,
however, that in relation to that subsection, the court may take into account its power
to extend time under section 33 Limitation Act 1980 (see In Re Workvale Limited
(1992) 1 WLR 416).
8. It is worth noting that pursuant to section 1030(3) the court has the power to direct
that the period between dissolution or striking off of the company and the making of
the order is not to count for the purposes of limitation. In Smith v. White Knight
Laundry Limited (2001) EWCA Civ. 660 (2002) 1 WLR 616, the Court of Appeal
held that a direction in favour of a claimant suspending the limitation period between
dissolution and restoration, should only be made where notice had been given to those
parties who could expect to oppose the application, where the court was satisfied it
had all the evidence available to it that would be before a court on an application
under section 33 and that a section 33 application would have been bound to succeed.
9. Finally in this context, it is worth noting that although once a company or LLP has
been restored to the Register, limitation will run from dissolution to restoration, if the
dissolution was as a result of a winding up order, limitation will not have run from the
order for winding up until dissolution. This was established as long ago as 1872 in Re
General Rolling Stock Company (1872) 7 Ch. App. 646.
Barriers to Litigation
10. Where a company (or LLP) is wound up pursuant to an order of the court
(compulsory winding up), then section 130(2) Insolvency Act 1986 provides that no 4
action or proceedings shall be proceeded with or commenced against the company (or
LLP) or its property, except by leave of the court and subject to such terms as the
court may impose.
11. There are similar provisions in relation to companies in administration. They are
found in Schedule B1 Insolvency Act 1986 at paragraph 43. These provisions do not
apply where the company is in voluntary liquidation, nor do they apply if there simply
has been the appointment of an administrative receiver. In the case of administration,
the administrator can give consent to the legal proceedings as well as the court giving
12. It was once thought that proceedings begun whilst a company was in liquidation
pursuant to an order of the court were a nullity and could not be validated
retrospectively. This suggestion was finally laid to rest (albeit only at first instance)
in The Governor and Company of the Bank of Ireland and Another v. Colliers
International UK Plc (2012) EWHC 2942 (Ch.) (2013) Ch. 422. It is a usual term in
an order giving permission in relation to a personal injury claim that the claimant may
not enforce any judgment against the company’s assets without the court’s permission
(such a term would ordinarily appear in the consent given by an administrator).
Company Voluntary Arrangements
13. A company voluntary arrangement (CVA) is an arrangement made under Part 1
Insolvency Act 1986 between a company and its creditors whereby, in effect,
creditors agree that the company should not be wound up and that the creditors should 5
receive a dividend pursuant to an arrangement rather than being able to pursue their
debts. (They are available also to LLPs). There is a limited moratorium facility in
section 1A Insolvency Act and if a moratorium is imposed whilst a CVA is being
considered, then the situation is the same as discussed above, namely permission is
required from the court for proceedings to be continued or commenced.
14. A company voluntary arrangement is approved where three quarters or more in value
of creditors vote in favour of the proposal. Thus the proposal can be forced on a
minority of dissenting creditors.
15. Where the proposal is approved, then it takes effect as if made by the company at the
creditor’s meeting and binds every person who in accordance with the Insolvency
Rules was either entitled to vote at that meeting or would have been entitled if he had
notice of it as if he were a party to the voluntary arrangement.
16. In one of the many cases arising from the administration of T&N Limited
(manufacturers of asbestos), the court held that not only would a person who had an
existing claim for personal injuries be counted as a creditor the purposes of a CVA,
but also anyone who had a potential claim having been exposed, as in that case, to
dangerous quantities of asbestos dust, but who had, by the time of the CVA, not
suffered any damage. The case is Re T&N Limited (2005) EWHC 2870 (Ch.) (2006)
1 WLR 1728. 6
17. A CVA, therefore, may well bind a personal injury litigant even though that claimant
had no notice of a meeting and will not be interested in pursuing the company’s assets
but, rather, its insurance.
18. Unless the claim arises out of a road traffic accident and there is, therefore, a direct
right of action against the insurance company, the claimant will need to rely on the
Third Parties (Rights Against Insurers) Act 1930. If, however, there has been a CVA
that binds a creditor such as a claimant with a claim for damages for personal injury,
then the rights of that claimant against the company are limited to the rights that are
granted by the CVA and it is to that extent only that any rights under insurance can be
19. A well drawn CVA may well exclude from its ambit creditors who are claimants for
damages for personal injuries. If, however, the CVA does not contain such a
provision, then, unless the insurer were to take a pragmatic approach, it would be
necessary to apply under section 6 Insolvency Act on the grounds that the
arrangement unfairly prejudices the interests of the claimant/creditor for an order
revoking or suspending the arrangement. The application has to be made quickly
because subsection (3) of section 6 gives only a period of 28 days to make the
application and that runs from the day on which the applicant became aware that the
meeting had taken place. The court has power to extend that time but, as we all know,
extensions of time are not so easy to get these days.
20. In a non-personal injury context, the court held that a creditor in relation to an
individual voluntary arrangement (where the provisions are similar) would be unfairly 7
prejudiced if an arrangement interfered with his rights to bring proceedings against
insurers under the Third Parties (Rights Against Insurers) Act 1930, see Sea Voyager
Maritime Inc. v. Bielecki (1999) 1 AER 628. In those circumstances, the court could
revoke the arrangement although, as happened in the Sea Voyager the parties having
received the court’s ruling would probably amend the CVA so as to exclude creditors
who had personal injury claims.
21. Most of the issues set out above apply equally in relation to individual insolvency.
Section 285(3) Insolvency Act 1986 prevents proceedings against a bankrupt from the
making of a bankruptcy order until the bankrupt’s discharge except with the leave of
the court. The Governor and Company of the Bank of Ireland case, although it did
not apply to bankruptcy, made it clear that permission can be given retrospectively to
validate proceedings commenced during that period without permission.
22. Where, in a case not involving a road traffic accident, a claimant wants to proceed
against an individual defendant who has entered into an individual voluntary
arrangement (IVA), then, again, similar considerations apply as with CVAs. There
are, however, some important differences.
23. It is more common to have a moratorium (an interim order) in relation to individual
voluntary arrangements. If an interim order is made, then pursuant to section 254(2)
Insolvency Act 1986, the court can stay pending proceedings. That does not prevent
the commencement of the proceedings.8
24. The effect of approval of an IVA under section 260 is the same as a CVA. This gives
rise to the same potential problem concerning a claimant’s rights against the insurers
under the Third Parties (Rights Against Insurers) Act 1930.
25. The remedy of challenge is similarly available, under section 262. Again it would be
hoped that an insurer would not take a technical point that a claimant against an
individual who has an IVA that potentially covers a personal injury claim is bound by
26. One further point to note about IVAs as opposed to CVAs, is that an IVA is not an
event that triggers a claimant’s rights under the Third Parties (Rights Against
Insurers) Act 1930. Technically, therefore, to invoke that Act, the claimant would
have to make the defendant bankrupt. That would be very unfortunate for a defendant
who had thought that he was protected by a perfectly reasonable and valid IVA.
Again it would be hoped that an insurance company would not insist on such a
27. By section 306 Insolvency Act 1986, upon the appointment of a trustee, the
bamkrupt’s estate vests in the trustee. The trustee will be either an insolvency
practitioner or, where no insolvency practitioner is appointed, the official receiver.9
28. Section 283 defines the bankrupt’s estate and that includes all property vested in him
at the commencement of the bankruptcy (the day on which the bankruptcy order is
made). There are various types of property excluded but choses in action are in
29. In Ord v Upton (2000) Ch 352, the Court of Appeal held that that included a claim for
damages for personal injuries. The trustee would, however, hold on trust for the
bankrupt that part of the damages that related to pain suffering and loss of amenity.
30. If the bankrupt wants to proceed with such a claim, then he will have to persuade his
trustee to bring or continue the claim in the name of the trustee or assign the cause of
action to the bankrupt. In either case, the trustee would keep all damages save those
that relate to PSLA.
31. So far as procedure is concerned, if, before he is made bankrupt, the bankrupt has
brought a claim, then that claim will be stayed until and unless the trustee assigns the
cause of action to the bankrupt or agrees to be substituted as claimant (see Heath v
Tang (1993) 1 WLR 1421. If the bankrupt wants to start a claim after he has been
made bankrupt and does so before he gets an assignment, then he risks the claim
being struck out as a nullity incapable of remedy by a subsequent assignment (see
Pickthall v Hill Dickinson LLP (2009) EWCA Civ 543 (2009) BPIR 1467).
32. That case, though, concerned a professional negligence claim where no part of
damages was held on trust for the bankrupt. A claim by a beneficiary of a trust is
possible where the trustee refuses to bring the claim (see Lewin on Trusts 18
43.01-43.04). Such claims are by no means straight forward and may not be possible
where, as in these circumstances, only part of the cause of action is held on trust for
the bankrupt. An alternative would be to seek a direction under section 303 that the
trustee assigns the cause of action or takes proceedings.10
33. The position of a claimant who has entered into an IVA is rather different. What
assets are the subject of the IVA is a matter for the terms of the arrangement.
34. A claimant should always disclose to his creditors the fact that he has a personal
injury claim as, plainly, that is an asset much (or most) of which would form part of
his estate for distribution to his creditors were he made bankrupt.
35. If a bankrupt failed to disclose such an asset, he would risk the arrangement being
later revoked due to a material irregularity and a bankruptcy order being made instead
under section 276.