Hannah Fry considers The impact of coronavirus on winding up petitions in the Insolvency and Companies Court’s approach to the hearings of winding up petitions.
Coronavirus has affected both the functioning of businesses and the Courts.In these unprecedentedtimes, how are the Courts dealing withthe hearings of winding up petitions?
The Insolvency and Companies Court, when first faced with the outbreak of coronavirusand the Government’s restrictions, considered it was not possible at the time to deal with the Winding Up Listremotely. On 25 March 2020, Insolvency and Companies Court Judge Mullen adjourned all of thelisted winding up petition hearings.
The following week on 1 April 2020, the Winding Up List was heard remotely for the first timeby Chief Insolvency and Companies Court Judge Briggs. The process for the hearing of the winding up petition was as follows:
•The Companies Court Winding Up List was published the day before the hearing as normal, detailing what winding–up petitions were to be heard and in what order.•HMCTS Court Staff notified the Petitioning Creditor and the Company in advance that the hearing would be proceeding via Skype for Business.
•The morning of the hearing, HMCTS staff emailed the Petitioning Creditor and the Company with the link to access the hearing via Skype for Business. Winding up petitions were listed in batches of 10 to 15 with a specific 30–minute time slot.
•The parties could then connect via the link in the email at the relevant timeslot. The parties were instructed to keep their camera off and microphone muted until the hearing of their winding up petition was calledby the Judge. Barristers were not required to robe.
•As the winding up petitions were listed in batches, you would hear other partiesin the batchmake their submissions and vice versaas the list progressed.
•The aspect which remained unchanged was the scrutiny given by the Judge to the legal submissions of the parties concerning the winding up petition. In this regard, the value of representation by Counsel remains unaltered.
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