High value recent successes for Ben Lafferty

March 28, 2024

In recent months, Ben Lafferty has had a number of significant high-value successes in both the High Court and County Court.

The first such success came through Ben’s involvement in a one-day forfeiture trial, heard at the County Court at Clerkenwell and Shoreditch – in which he was instructed by the Claimant landlord of a parade of commercial premises in central London.

Numerous defences were fielded by the Defendant, including, substantial disrepair allegations, breach of landlord covenant allegations and assertions of harassment.

Ben, instructed by international law firm DWF, obtained the total dismissal of the entirety of the Defendant’s defence and secured, aside from an order for possession of the relevant property, a substantial money judgment for his client for a sum in excess of £179,000.

The second success came by way of a winding up petition, heard in the High Court in Manchester, over the course of one day, in which Ben was instructed by the Petitioning Creditor – via Chris Jones, insolvency partner at Gunnercooke.

The petition debt was for the sum of £205,000, with the petition itself disputed not by the debtor company, but by eight opposing creditors, who claimed to be the majority debt holders of the debtor company and who sought to have the company remain in voluntary liquidation.

Ben successfully persuaded the court that it ought to exercise its discretion under section 116 of the Insolvency Act 1986 to wind up the debtor company by order of the court, notwithstanding that it had already been placed into a voluntary liquidation.

This result was obtained, as the court accepted Ben’s submissions that, regardless of the fact that there was no specific professional criticism to be levied towards the conduct of the voluntary liquidator, where there was inter-group transactions and debts of questionable probity for varying reasons, the appropriate course was for a compulsory liquidation to allow a full and objectively impartial investigation into the debtor company’s affairs, as the objectivity of the relevant office holder must not only be done – but be seen to be done, in the course of liquidation.

Notably, and importantly, in achieving this result, was the case of re Re Zirceram ltd [2000] 1 BCLC 751, which concerned a winding up petition made against a company already in voluntary liquidation. The petition in that case succeeded, as the court held that actual impartiality of the voluntary liquidator was not the sole issue, when dealing with a s116 petition, as a liquidation had to be seen to be impartial, as well as actually being impartial in a real-world sense. Consequently, in Re Zirceram, as the voluntary liquidation had been entered because of debts of questionable probity, the compulsory liquation was the preferred option, given it would be much harder for a voluntary liquidator to be seen to be independent, where the debts which obtained the majority to install them were themselves of poor standing.