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How significant is the High Court’s ruling in Woolsey v Payne? Philip Flower, abarrister at 9 Stone Buildings who acted for one of the parties, believes the ruling provides important guidance in the factors required for setting aside statutory demands and bankruptcy orders in insolvency proceedings.
Woolsey v Payne  EWHC 968 (Ch),  All ER (D) 24 (May)
The Chancery Division considered an appeal by the petitioning creditor, Mr Woolsey, against findings of the Chief Registrar regarding abankruptcy order and astatutory demand made against the respondents, Mr and Mrs Payne respectively. In dismissing the appeal, the court held that, using the correct test, the wife’s application to annul the bankruptcy order would be allowed and that the other issues raised by Mr Woolsey required further examination at afull hearing.
In December 2012, the appellant, Mr Woolsey, loaned £255,000 to Mr and Mrs Payne. The loan was subject to aprofessionally drafted loan agreement to which both Mr and Mrs Payne were parties as well as alimited company—Russell Payne Chartered Accountants Ltd—of which both Mr and Mrs Payne were members. Mr Payne was achartered accountant but carried on his business through the limited company and was adirector. Mrs Payne was ashareholder and company secretary but not adirector of that company.
The terms of the loan agreement were not complied with and Mr Woolsey served statutory demands on both Mr and Mrs Payne. Mrs Payne failed to apply to set aside the statutory demand and did not attend or adduce any evidence at the hearing of the petition which was later presented and so she was adjudicated bankrupt. Her explanation for her failure to take any steps following service of the statutory demand was that she had delegated the entire matter to her husband who had mistakenly understood that there
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Stephen qualified as a solicitor in 2005 and joined the Restructuring and Insolvency team at Lexis®PSL in September 2014 from Shoosmiths LLP, where he was a senior associate in the restructuring and insolvency team.
Primarily focused on contentious and advisory corporate and personal insolvency work, Stephen’s experience includes acting for office-holders on a wide range of issues, including appointments, investigations and the recovery and realisation of assets (including antecedent transaction claims), and for creditors in respect of the impact on them of the insolvency of debtors and counterparties.
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