Anthony Brian Jacobs v Official Receiver

Facts

Bankrupt's appeal against the order of District Judge Hewitson-Brown at St Albans County Court extending the period prior to the appellant's discharge from bankruptcy until 14 April 1998 under s.279(3) Insolvency Act 1986 for the appellant's failure to comply with his obligations under the bankruptcy order. The Official Receiver's application to extend the period of bankruptcy has been returnable the day before the appellant's bankruptcy was to be automatically discharged under s.279 after the expiration of the three-year period. As the court was unable to hear the application then the matter had to be adjourned. Since both counsel agreed that if no order was made to extend the period during the adjournment, the bankrupt would be discharged and the court would have no jurisdiction to deal with the application, the district judge had suspended the discharge until the adjourned date. The appellant contended there was no power to do this as, before making such an order, the judge had to be satisfied that the bankrupt had failed to comply with his bankruptcy obligations.

Held

(1) In the absence of any other evidence the Official Receiver's report would have been sufficient to enable the order to be made under s.279(3). (2) Where a deadline was about to expire it was well known in law and equity that if there was a contested issue which could not be resolved between the parties, the courts were prepared, in an appropriate case, to grant an injunction without hearing the full argument on American Cyanamid v Ethicon Ltd (1975) AC 396 or other principles. (3) The appropriate order was for the district judge to be satisfied that the default was shown on the report and that there should be an extension, but, that in the interests of natural justice, the shortest possible extension should be granted to the earliest date when the matter could be heard on a contested basis.

Appeal dismissed.

Comment

Where an order is about to expire and the court has no time to hear an issue as to whether the order should be extended, the court may extend the order until the earliest possible date when the matter can be heard and contested.

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