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Today is Sir Oliver Popplewell's 82nd birthday. The learned judge has of course now retired from the High Court bench, where was made famous for his judgments in a number of libel cases. He went on to publish his memoirs, (Popplewell, O. Benchmark: A Life in the Law by Oliver Popplewell (foreword by Stephen Fry) I.B. Tauris, 2003) started practicing in ADR chambers, and has completed his retirement PPE studies at Oxford, leaving the University where he was its oldest undergraduate. Sir Oliver is married to the High Court judge, Dame Elizabeth Gloster. His son is Andrew Popplewell QC and his granddaughter is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe actress Anna Popplewell.
By way of birthday celebration we can cast a look back at his insolvency judgments. As a judge assigned to the Queen's Bench Division there are few insolvency judgments on which we can mull. One case stands out however, not only because it is on an insolvency related issue, but because the judgment is huge! The judgment is in: Huxford & Ors. v Stoy Hayward & Co (1989) 5 B.C.C. 421. The case concerns a garage company which was put into receivership on the advice of Stoy Hayward & Co. He concludes his judgment by stating:
"I am quite satisfied on the evidence that even if Stoy Hayward had not recommended a receiver it was very unlikely that this company would have been able to continue trading. It seems to me inevitable that the bank would themselves have appointed a receiver within a very short period of time even if Stoy Hayward had not made the recommendation or that other creditors would within a very short space of time have themselves started taking steps to recover their debts. I am therefore not satisfied that the plaintiffs have proved on the balance of probabilities that there was any sensible chance of this company continuing."
"This is the ultimate statement of where the law on IVAs is to be found in our great common law...