Norton Rose insolvency team triumph in House of Lords on landmark cross-border insolvency case

9 April 2008

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The House of Lords has handed down judgment in McGrath v Riddell, which concerned a request under section 426 of the Insolvency Act 1986 by the Australian liquidators of companies in the HIH insurance group for the remission to Australia of the realisations of the English assets of those companies by the English provisional liquidators. Their Lordships have reversed the judgments of David Richards J and the Court of Appeal in holding that the Australian liquidators were entitled to remission of such assets. The test for an English court granting assistance under section 426 in response to a letter of request for cooperation received from a foreign office-holder has been re-affirmed as being that the English court should grant the assistance requested unless there is a compelling reason not to do so. The case represents a landmark in cross-border insolvency law and is a commendable endorsement by the House of Lords of a universalist approach to the winding up of international concerns.

The team advising the Australian liquidators was led by Hamish Anderson, with assistance from Radford Goodman, Mark Craggs, Rachel Palmer, Jonathan Percy and Pam Ellis. Counsel for the Australian liquidators were Jonathan Sumption QC, Simon Mortimore QC and Tom Smith. The liquidators' fellow appellants, Amaca Pty Limited and Amaba Pty Limited, were advised by Clifford Chance LLP and represented by Geoffrey Vos QC and Peter Arden QC. The respondent English provisional liquidators were advised by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and represented by William Trower QC and Jeremy Goldring.

The report can be found here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200708/ldjudgmt/jd080409/mcgrat-1.htm