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Elgin Legal Limited [2016]

Author: Nigel Cook

The company had carried legal aid work regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The sole director placed it into administration (avoiding liquidation) so that its files could be reviewed and bills sent to the Legal Aid Agency.

The original administrator was replaced by a block transfer but although the administration had been extended beyond the original one year term up to 1 March 2016 by oversight the new administrator had not applied for a further extension. The administration therefore lapsed on that date. He applied for a retrospective administration order back-dated to 1 March 2016.

The court accepted that ex-administrator had the power to apply by reason of being creditor of the company for his unpaid fees.

The High Court judge reviewed the previous authorities on the jurisdiction of the court to make retrospective order – particularly Mond v Synergi Partners and G-Tech (both cases commented in previous IP Alerters).

In his decision the judge granted a prospective order on the basis that there would be a better result for creditors than in a winding-up.

He expressed strong doubts about his powers to make a retrospective order (though this was obiter because the application had by then been withdrawn).

However the power appears to be available in suitable cases; in the later decision of Petitt v Bradford Bulls (Northern) Ltd, Mann J followed G-Tech and made a retrospective order though on the basis that it would be effective from the date of termination of an earlier out of court appointment (the validity of which was not decided).

The case transcript is not yet available but we will comment further when it is.

Please contact Nigel Cook either by email n.cook@downslaw.co.uk or on 01306 502294.