An amended Practice Direction for insolvency cases came into force on 4 July 2018. It widens the jurisdiction of county court hearing centres which can deal with insolvency work. But only just. Ordinarily staying put at one of these centres will be opposed and unopposed applications to set aside a statutory demand; unopposed company winding up and bankruptcy petitions; applications for income payment orders; public and private examinations; possession claims and claims under the Trusts of Land etc Act 1996;; charging order applications and their enforcement in insolvency cases; applications for debt relief orders; and a few other bits and pieces. Note that opposed bankruptcy petitions will have to be transferred out.
So who gets the business that cannot be retained by these hearing centres? On the South Eastern circuit it will be the County Court at Central London. Elsewhere it will be a hearing centre located at a Business and Property Court on the same circuit or one of the specialist centres on the same circuit. Those specialist centres are currently at Brighton, Croydon, Medway, Preston and Romford.
When the case is transferred out a specialist judge at the transferee court is to take a look at the papers as soon as possible and decide where the case can most fairly be decided. The written representations on this from the judge who transferred and from the parties are to be taken into account. The case could even be sent back from whence it came!
The danger is that debtors against whom bankruptcy proceedings have been brought will more readily lodge their opposition to the proceedings and thereby earn perhaps a couple of months of valuable time while the case finds its resting place during which they will hope to gather together another money to pay off the creditor. We shall see.