The meaning of knowledge in respect of after-acquired property—Viscount St Davids v Lewis

The meaning of knowledge in respect of after-acquired property—Viscount St Davids v Lewis

What is the meaning of ‘knowledge’ in the Insolvency Act 1986 (IA 1986)? Tina Kyriakides of Radcliffe Chambers and winning barrister in the case considers the issues raised in Viscount St Davids v Lewis.

Original news

Viscount St Davids v Lewis [2015] EWHC 2826 (Ch), [2015] All ER (D) 73 (Oct)

A registrar had dismissed a bankrupt’s application for a declaration that a notice claiming ‘after-acquired property’ had not been served on him by the trustee in bankruptcy (trustee) within the statutory time limits, under IA 1986, s 307(1), and that it was, accordingly, of no effect. The Chancery Division, in dismissing the bankrupt’s appeal, considered the meaning of ‘knowledge’ in respect of the date on which the trustee had become aware that the property in question had been acquired by, or had devolved on, the bankrupt. It ruled that the term ‘knowledge’ under IA 1986, ss 307 and 309 denoted actual knowledge and had to be knowledge of facts and not of mere claims or allegations and that the registrar had not erred in law in relation to the test of knowledge, under those sections of IA 1986, and had made findings of fact that had been open to her.

What were the facts of the case?

Lord St Davids was made bankrupt on 17 June 2002. He did not co-operate with the Official Receiver and, as a result, his discharge from bankruptcy was suspended.

In 2003, with the assistance of a Mr Jonathan Shaw, who held himself out as a specialist offshore tax adviser, Lord St Davids set up what was known as the Aubach group of companies. This was an elaborate corporate and trust structure involving a number of companies incorporated in different jurisdictions. The structure was designed, according to Lord St Davids, on the basis that he would not be a beneficiary. The holding company of the group was

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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.