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Annulling bankruptcy if debtor not validly served? Oberon Kwok successful in Ardawa v Uppal [2019] EWHC 456 (Ch)

Roth J has handed down judgment in Ardawa v Uppal [2019] EWHC 456 (Ch), dismissing a bankrupt’s appeal against the refusal of a first instance judge to annul his bankruptcy. In the circumstances of the case, Roth J accepted that service of a statutory demand at the debtor’s residence, without personal service, service by email or contact by telephone, still satisfied the requirement to do “all that is reasonable” to bring the demand to the debtor’s attention. However, the retrospective service order of the petition made in this case, which deemed past attempts at service to be sufficient and dispensed with any future attempts to serve the petition, was held to have been made without jurisdiction. Accordingly, the petition was invalidly served, and could not be cured as a formal defect. Nevertheless, it was not appropriate to annul the bankruptcy because the debtor did not dispute the debt, failed to pay despite having the means to do so, and had been consciously trying to evade service. The appeal was therefore dismissed.

Oberon Kwok appeared for the successful Respondent. The judgment can be found here.

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