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In two related judgments, the High Court has affirmed that standing to attack the decisions of liquidators and trustees in bankruptcy is largely limited to creditors, contributories, and bankrupts where there is likely to be a surplus in the estate. The court struck out challenges brought by former bankrupts who had bid for property for lack of standing. In so doing, it rejected a wide range of arguments as to how a legitimate interest (and standing to challenge) could arise. The decisions serve as a useful reminder that the requirements for standing are construed narrowly. Practitioners may find it interesting that the court expressly rejected an argument based on natural justice and reiterated that those aggrieved by faulty bidding processes must rely on existing common law remedies. Written by Judy Fu, barrister at 3 Verulam Buildings.
Re Stay in Style (in liquidation) and others  EWHC 537 (Ch)
Re Stay in Style (in liquidation) and others  EWHC 538 (Ch)
It is well-established that the courts are generally unwilling to interfere with the administrative and commercial decisions taken by insolvency officeholders, save in cases of fraud or bad faith.
It is also clear that only those with a direct interest in the insolvency process has standing to apply to the court to interfere with the decisions of officeholders.
These judgments provide a useful illustration of those principles: practitioners should bear in mind that unless the applicant is a creditor or contributory, or (in the case of bankrupts) there is likely to be a surplus in the bankrupt estate, applicants are likely to face difficulties in establishing standing to bring a challenge.
These judgments also illustrate the difficulties which can arise where an applicant takes on multiple capacities in an insolvency process.
Here, the applicants were variously former bankrupts, trustees of a family settlement which had bid on the property in issue (which had been sold by the trustee in bankruptcy and which transaction the applicants sought to attack), and fo
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