Changes to the Companies Winding Up Rules

The Companies Winding Up (Amendment) Rules 2013 came into operation on 1 March 2013. Orders 3, 8, 9, 11, 15, 19 and 25 of the Companies Winding Up Rules 2008 have been revoked and replaced by new orders. Order 9 had previously been amended by the 2010 Amendment Rules. Many of the changes are welcome and are likely to increase efficiency, for example, through the use of letter applications for the validation of share transfers and applications relating to liquidation committees and the removal of the need for court hearings in some supervision applications. Other changes increase and clarify certain service, notice and advertising requirements.

Some of the changes are substantive, and reflect a move away from liquidator autonomy and towards a more uniform, court governed process. These include sweeping changes to the terms under which liquidators will be able to retain lawyers and a substantially reduced role for liquidators in inter partes proceedings affecting the rights of various stakeholder constituencies.

One rule is designed to ensure that petitions are served on the day that they are filed. This isa worthy aim, but will result in at least 24 hours’delay in the presentation of all winding up petitions, possibly more, if the Court does notmeet its self-imposed target. Correspondingly, this will delay the deemed commencement of any winding up, with the stakeholder protection that ensues. We will have to wait to see the practical effect of this reform over the coming months…

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