Non-receipt of statutory demands and bankruptcy petitions can still be good service (Re Emmanuel)

Non-receipt of statutory demands and bankruptcy petitions can still be good service (Re Emmanuel)

The Bankruptcy Court has ruled that HMRC properly served both a statutory demand and a bankruptcy petition on a taxpayer, despite them never being received by the taxpayer. Christopher Buckley of Radcliffe Chambers discusses the court’s decision and what it means for practitioners.

Original news

Re Emmanuel; Emmanuelv Revenue and Customs Commissioners [2017] EWHC 1253 (Ch), [2017] All ER (D) 29 (Jun)

The Bankruptcy Court has dismissed a taxpayer’s appeal against a Registrar’s dismissal of his application to annul a bankruptcy order on the grounds that he had not been properly served with the statutory demand or petition. The court ruled that the Registrar had been entitled to dismiss the application and that it would not interfere with that decision in circumstances where the taxpayer could not successfully contend that the Revenue could have discovered his alternative address by doing all that had been reasonable.

What was the background to the appeal?

In May 2014 HMRC sought to serve a statutory demand for £176,257.13 on Mr Emmanuelat an address that had been given to them by the Metropolitan Police. The process server did not receive an answer when he visited the property but Mr Emmanuel’s residence was confirmed by a neighbour. An appointment letter was therefore sent to the property and the statutory demand was served by posting it through the letter box when the process server returned at the appointed time but received no reply.

A bankruptcy petition was presented on 21 July 2014 and again it was impossible to personally serve the petition. The petition was therefore served—in accordance with an order for substituted service—by first class recorded delivery and ordinary post to the property.

A bankruptcy order was made on 8 December 2014 when Mr Emmanueldid not attend.

Mr Emmanuelwas arrested on 21 April 2016 following the issuing of a warrant when he failed to attend a public examination in April 2015 and contended that was when he

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About the author:

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.