COVID-19 – Latest update

Insolvency Practice Direction relating to the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020

4 July, 2020

On 3rd July 2020 a new Insolvency Practice Direction (IPD) and an amendment to the Insolvency Proceedings Practice Direction 2018 (2018 PD) were approved by the Chancellor of the High Court (the IPD and amendments were drafted by Mr Justice Zacaroli, chair of the Insolvency Rules Committee with the Chief Insolvency and Companies Court Judge, Judge Briggs, Mr Justice Snowden and Mr Justice Trower).

The IPD and amendment to the 2018 PD primarily deal with a range of measures for insolvency practice under the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 (CIGA). The measures include provisions for the process by which a winding up petition will remain private unless and until a judge has decided that inability to pay the debt on which the statutory demand is based is not as a result of the current pandemic, including a pre-trial review and preliminary hearing.

Moorgate Industries UK Ltd v Pramod Mittal

3 July, 2020

[2020] EWHC 1550 (Ch)
This case concerned bankruptcy proceedings against Pramod Mittal, the brother of Lakshmi Mittal, brought by Moorgate Industries UK Ltd, in respect of petition debt of just under £140 million.

The debt arose following an LCIA arbitration award made in the petitioner’s favour in 2017 against a Bosnian company, the debts of which had been guaranteed by Mr Mittal and an Isle of Man registered company (presently in liquidation). Moorgate brought proceedings in the Commercial Court seeking to enforce the guarantee and obtained an award against Mr Mittal and the Isle of Man company (for some US $166 million). Following those awards, Mr Mittal entered into a settlement agreement with Moorgate, under which he made payments to Moorgate in part-satisfaction of a reduced sum agreed to under the settlement agreement. After he failed to make one of the payments by the agreed deadline, Moorgate initiated bankruptcy proceedings.

The case was long-running. The bankruptcy proceedings were brought under a petition dated 8 February 2019. Mr Mittal filed a Notice of Opposition on a number of grounds, including Mr Mittal’s contention that there had not been proper service on him of the petition. From May to October 2019, a number of hearings were held in relation to that petition, and various rounds of witness evidence were filed, including on the disputed issue of service. Very shortly before a further directions hearing in October 2019, the petitioner sought to withdraw the petition and, after negotiations, agreed to pay Mr Mittal’s costs of the first petition of some £66,000. Shortly thereafter, Moorgate initiated proceedings for a second bankruptcy petition, claiming to have set off the costs order in Mr Mittal’s favour against costs orders given in the Commercial Court against Mr Mittal and the Isle of Man company.

The second petition was due to be heard in March 2020, but owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, and in particular the effect of the lockdown restrictions on Mr Mittal’s ability to participate in the hearing, the hearing was adjourned until May 2020. At the hearing, ICC Judge Burton considered (i) whether Moorgate was entitled to the set off it claimed, and if not, whether that meant that the proceedings should be stayed pending payment of the costs order by Moorgate, (ii) whether, properly construed, the settlement agreement, which had not been terminated by Moorgate, obliged Moorgate to continue to seek payment from the principal debtor (the Bosnian company against whom the LCIA award had been made), (iii) whether errors in the petition meant that a bankruptcy order could not be made at that hearing, and (iv) whether, notwithstanding Mr Mittal’s other grounds of appeal, there was a reasonable prospect of the petition debt being paid in full within a reasonable time.

The ICC Judge reserved judgment, which was handed down on 19 June 2020, holding (i) that Moorgate was entitled to equitable set off (and was further not persuaded that if Moorgate was not entitled to a set off, it would be appropriate to grant a stay), (ii) that the settlement agreement did not preclude Moorgate from proceeding against Mr Mittal for the full debt under the Commercial Court’s order, (iii) that although there was a defect in the petition (in that interest accruing after the statutory demand had been claimed in the petition), it was capable of being remedied by the Court, and (iv) the Court was not satisfied on the evidence that there was a reasonable prospect of the petition debt being paid in full within a reasonable time. Having dismissed Mr Mittal’s grounds of opposition, the Court made a bankruptcy order. Mr Mittal is pursuing an appeal.

Stephen Ryan was instructed by Collyer Bristow for Mr Mittal in respect of the first and second petitions, and is instructed in relation to Mr Mittal’s intended appeal.

Stephen Ryan

Three Stone is looking to recruit one Third Six pupil starting in October 2020

30 June, 2020

The successful applicant will have completed a Chancery or commercial pupillage and be able to demonstrate a real commitment to those areas of work, as well as strong analytical abilities, knowledge of the law, and drafting and advocacy skills.

Applications should take the form of a CV and covering letter and should succinctly address the matters set out above. Applicants are asked to provide the names and contact details of two previous pupil supervisors who would be willing to act as referees.

Applications should be sent by email to our Senior Clerk, Justin Brown (
The closing date is 31 July 2020.

Three Stone is a thriving set of Chancery and commercial chambers. Our members have busy practices in their chosen areas of specialisation before courts and tribunals in England and Wales and around the world. We offer a friendly and supportive working environment and first-rate practice management by our clerking team. We only award a Third Six pupillage when we have a vacancy for tenancy and we believe that an applicant has the potential to become a successful member of chambers.

We are committed to the promotion of equality, diversity and inclusion at the Bar. All members involved in recruitment have received appropriate training and we aim to follow best practice on fairness in recruitment and selection.

Court of Appeal considers arbitrability of claims under the Companies Act 2006

The Court of Appeal has handed down judgment in Bridgehouse (Bradford No. 2) Ltd v BAE Systems Plc [2020] EWCA Civ 759, the latest case to consider the approach to be adopted to the construction of arbitration clauses and the concept of non-arbitrability.

David Lord QC and Sebastian Kokelaar acted for the Appellant, Bridgehouse (Bradford No. 2) Ltd. A detailed note considering the decision may be found here.


Up to date guidance on remote hearings

23 June, 2020

Please click here for the latest comprehensive guidance from the Commercial Bar Association on Remote Hearings. The Guidance includes suggestions as to best practice at such hearings and a specimen PTR checklist for use where a remote hearing of the trial might be required in the Commercial Court. 

Three Stone Zoominar: Shining a Light on Remoteness

2 June, 2020

Three Stone Chambers will be presenting a 1 hour ‘zoominar’ on ‘SHINING A LIGHT ON REMOTENESS Remote hearings: our experiences and insights’ on 4th June 2020, 5pm – 6pm.

Speakers include:

  1. David Lord QC
  2. Francis Collaço Moraes
  3. Emma Knight
  4. Sebastian Kokelaar
  5. Mark Watson-Gandy
  6. Stephen Ryan


  • Introduction
  • Tips and Traps
  • Our Experiences
    • The Apps Court
    • Trial
    • Arbitration
    • View from the Bench
    • The Winders
    • CofA
    • BVI
  • Adjournment
    • Covid 19 v Adjournment/Extension
  • Update
    • Covid 19 developments
  • Questions



The programme is available to download here.

Guidance on PDF bundles

Please see below the general guidance on PDF bundles issued on 20 May 2020 by Mr Justice Mann (Judge in charge of Live Services), Lady Justice Thirlwall (Senior Presiding Judge) and Sir Andrew McFarlane (President of the Family Division).

The guidance states that it is not immutable and should give way to any specific directions given by particular courts or the requirements of particular judges in particular cases. The guidance is intended to be a living document and will be updated from time to time.

Click here for the general guidance.


Francis Moraes


For a list of our members please click here.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss other arrangements please contact:
Tel: +44 (0)20 7242 4937

Royal Courts of Justice – Notice to all court users

29 May, 2020

Fees Office – Notice to all court users

From Monday 1 June 2020 the Royal Courts of Justice Fees Office will reopen to the public during the hours of 10am to 2.00pm each Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Access to the Fees Office will be on an appointment only basis.  

An appointment can be booked from the 1 June 2020 by calling the telephone number 0207 947 6527 each Monday, Wednesday and Friday between the hours of 10am to 2:00pm or by emailing the following address If you are unable to attend in person please contact the Fees Office by telephone or email and a member of the team will assist you.

Once an appointment has been booked, Court users are advised to enter the Royal Courts of Justice via the main Strand entrance and make their way directly to the Fees Office. Upon arrival you will be directed by staff to pay a fee or submit a remission application and then your documents will be placed in a drop box for the appropriate Court department. Once this has been done you should leave the Royal Courts of Justice via the designated exit. Please follow the social distancing measures that will be in-place around the court building. Court users will need to bring their own hand sanitiser and bottled water.

If you have any queries specific to your case please contact the relevant department via the emails listed below:

  1. Queen’s Bench Masters –
  2. Queen’s Bench General –
  3. Administrative Court –
  4. County Court at Central London – Bankruptcy and Companies Team –
  5. Family Division –
  6. Senior Courts Costs Office using –
  7. Civil Court of Appeal –

Click here for pdf.

Source: Royal Courts of Justice

Government guidance on responsible contractual behaviour when faced with the Covid-19 as a frustrating event

28 May, 2020

Non-statutory guidance for parties to contracts impacted by the COVID-19 emergency.

The guidance in this note is that parties to contracts impacted by the COVID-19 emergency should act responsibly and fairly, support the response to COVID-19 and protect jobs and the economy.

Source: Cabinet Office and Infrastructure and Projects Authority

365 Business Finance Limited v Bellagio Hospitality WB Ltd; Court Enforcement Services Limited v Marston Legal Services Limited (formerly Burlington Credit Limited)

15 May, 2020

[2020] EWCA Civ 588
A number of questions were raised in this appeal about the operation of the current legislative framework governing execution against goods under writs of control (formerly writs of fieri facias) where two or more writs to recover different judgment debts in respect of the same debtor are directed to different enforcement officers (formerly sheriffs). Lord Leggatt described the main question as being what, if any, rule of priority applies in such circumstances:

“In particular, is the enforcement officer who receives the second (or subsequent) writ obliged to wait until the amount outstanding under each earlier writ of control has been paid before taking steps to enforce the later writ; and if the enforcement officer does not wait and enforces the later writ, what consequences follow? (para. 3)

In this case two writs of control were issued in respect of the goods of a Mr Handa. Marston’s writ was received before the writ issued to Court Enforcement Services (CES). Marston’s enforcement agent attended at Mr Handa’s premises to enforce Marston’s writ, and entered into a controlled goods agreement (formerly ‘walking possession’), agreeing that £10,000 would be paid within a month’s time, with payments of £1,000 to be paid thereafter. However, on the day before the £10,000 payment was due to be made, a different enforcement agent, acting under a writ issued to CES, attended at Mr Handa’s premises and, despite being made aware of the controlled goods agreement and of Marston’s earlier writ, demanded payment of the amount outstanding under CES’s writ. In order to prevent removal of his goods, Mr Handa paid £12,050 to CES.

Marston contended that these funds were the fruits of execution, which should be allocated first to Marston’s writ, since it had priority over CES’s writ. When CES refused, Marston obtained an order from Master Eastman compelling CES to pay over the funds to Marston. CES applied to set aside that order, and the application was heard by Mr Justice Turner, who dismissed the application and held that Schedule 12 of the Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 (TCE Act) preserves the long established principle that a debtor’s goods become bound by the writ from a particular point in time, and that although the same goods can be bound by multiple writs, it is only once the first writ is satisfied out of proceeds that the surplus can be applied to the second writ, and so on, in accordance with writ priority.  Since Marston’s writ was first in time, the funds taken by CES should first be used to satisfy Marston’s writ.

The Court of Appeal upheld Mr Justice Turner’s decision, dismissing CES’s appeal. Lord Leggatt, with whom Lord Justices Lewison and Lindblom agreed, found that the concept, used in para. 4 of Schedule 12 of the TCE Act, of the debtor’s goods becoming ‘bound’ by the writ, could be traced back, through a number of enactments, to the Statute of Frauds 1677, and that courts had consistently held that the binding of the debtor’s goods by the writ created a rule of priority whereby writs must be satisfied in the order in which they are received by the officer. That rule continued to apply under the TCE Act.

The appeal raised a number of other questions about the interpretation of Schedule 12 of the TCE Act, including whether money paid, by cash and by credit card, constituted proceeds of enforcement (the court held that it did constitute proceeds, even if no goods had actually been taken into control). It also raised the question whether enforcement officers and enforcement agents are officers of the court and subject to the court’s jurisdiction over its officers, discussed in the recent case of Lehman Brothers Australia Ltd v MacNamara [2020] EWCA Civ 321. The court held that enforcement officers and agents were indeed officers of the court, but having found that there was a statutory obligation on CES to pay over the funds to Marston, the court found it unnecessary to decide whether the court’s jurisdiction over its officers could have been invoked to achieve a similar result. The court did, however, find that by acting as they did, CES’s officer and agent had engaged in conduct deliberately calculated to disrupt the orderly process of enforcement of writs of control, and had thus misconducted themselves.

Stephen Ryan of Three Stone appeared for Marston, in the High Court and subsequently in the Court of Appeal.

Stephen Ryan


Three Stone have taken immediate measures to maintain our impressive chancery commercial services and our clerking team will provide their usual high standard of service whilst ensuring the safety of our clients, staff and members during this dynamic period.