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When is it just and equitable to wind up a company? Reuben Comiskey, barrister at 11 Stone Buildings, explores the recent case of Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills v PAG and explains that it suggests certain schemes ought to be wound up in the public interest.
Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills v PAG Management Services Ltd  EWHC 2404 (Ch),  All ER (D) 74 (Aug)
The Secretary of State presented a petition, under section 124A of the Insolvency Act 1986 (IA 1986), seeking an order that the respondent company be wound up on the basis that it would be expedient in the public interest. The Chancery Division, in allowing the application, held that misuse of insolvency legislation by the respondent's scheme demonstrated a lack of commercial probity, such that it was just and equitable to wind up the company.
Under the Non-Domestic Rating (Unoccupied Property) (England) Regulations 2008, SI 2008/386, the occupier of business property is exempted from paying business rates on that property if it is in liquidation, either compulsory or voluntary.
Recently, a series of businesses have attempted to take advantage of this exemption to save landlords business rates on commercial properties while they are unoccupied. The method adopted by PAG Management Services Ltd is typical of these schemes. It involved the following steps:
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