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Insolvency Law

Expert guidance on all aspects of corporate and personal insolvency

09 AUG 2009

Sir Raymond Walton - Chancery Court judge and Sherlock Holmes fan

There are a number of amusing asides in the judgments of Sir Raymond Walton, not unconnected with the wide world of insolvency. Mr Justice Walton edited Kerr on Receivers. The responsibility for maintaining this work, particularly after the introduction of administrative receivers, was taken up by Professor Muir Hunter QC. It subsequently became Kerr and Hunter on Receivers and Administrators. Here are some snippets from Sir Raymond's judgments:

"So far as the three brothers were concerned, none of them struck me as being a particularly good witness. In particular, there is the astonishing case, of which Mr. Sherlock Holmes would doubtless have desired to have been seized, of the invisible brokers' men. So far as Lowcroft is concerned, which was indeed the main concern of the third brother, the fifth defendant and their brother Surjit, there appears to have been a considerable number of brokers' men taking possession under executions without having been observed by anybody doing so."

(from: Bank of Baroda v Panessar & Ors, Panessar & Ors. v Bank of Baroda & Anor (1986) 2 B.C.C. 99288).

"We remind ourselves again that the object of the examination is to obtain assets to swell the estate. Suppose, to take a romantic example, the person being examined says “Oh, yes, I know what became of all those Kruggerrands you have been talking about. The debtor went and buried them in a desert island, the one marked on this map at P, and I am certain that they all are still there.” Is such a statement to be made available to the debtor, and any creditor who has proved as of right under bankruptcy rule 15 ? The answer is obviously in the negative; it takes time to gather a ship's company, hire a suitable vessel, and sail off to the South Seas to recover the gold; and if while the trustee is doing all this — possibly having difficulty with the raising of the necessary funds to man the expedition — creditors are entitled as of right to learn precisely when and where the ill-gotten gains are secreted, or in the case of the bankrupt himself that the trustee knew this, the whole purpose of the examination will be self-stultifying. The fact that the treasure is more likely, in modern times, to be buried in a numbered bank account in Switzerland or elsewhere and that the forces which have to be mustered to man the expedition are more likely to be prosaic lawyers and accountants rather than swashbuckling sea captains is nihil ad rem (save that they are likely to be even more expensive)."

(from: In re Poulson (A Bankrupt) [1976] 1 W.L.R. 1023).

 

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