Business Rates Avoidance Schemes: Secretary of State v PAG Asset Preservation Ltd [2020] EWCA Civ 101


The Court of Appeal has handed down its judgment in Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy v PAG Asset Preservation Ltd [2020] EWCA Civ 101, dismissing the Secretary of State’s appeals.

The Secretary of State had presented petitions under s.124A of the Insolvency Act 1986 (to wind up two companies, PAG Asset Preservation Limited (“PAGAPL”) and MB Vacant Property Solutions Limited (“MBV”) (collectively “the Companies”), on public interest grounds. The Companies operated schemes for the avoidance or mitigation of national non-domestic rates (colloquially known as ‘business rates’). It was alleged by the Secretary of State that the schemes in question misused or abused or subverted the insolvency legislation, so that the Companies ought to be wound up.

The Court of Appeal unanimously upheld the decision of HHJ Stephen Davies, who dismissed the petitions and refused to wind up the Companies.

Nicholas Trompeter (led by David Chivers Q.C.) appeared for the Companies. He was instructed by Jonathon Crook of Gorvins Solicitors.