Members of Wilberforce Chambers’ Insolvency Group specialise in all aspects of corporate and personal insolvency litigation and advice. We do so in the UK and offshore. Our Group includes winners and nominees for Insolvency and Restructuring industry awards and authors of leading textbooks in the area.
Members have been involved in high-profile insolvency matters in many jurisdictions over the years. Examples include Leeds v Lemos  (the leading case on the right to assert privilege in insolvency), Re Nortel / Lehman  (the Supreme Court’s decision restating the law on provable debts), Re Stanford International Bank [2016-2017] (acting for former liquidators in jurisdiction battles in London and professional negligence claims in London and Antigua), and Akers v Samba  (the Supreme Court’s decision on void transactions under s.127 of the Insolvency Act 1986).
We also work in connection with restructurings, in particular where issues cross-over with our other practice areas such as property and pensions. Recent examples include the New Look CVA, the Travelodge CVA, the pensions restructuring case of Halcrow, the HMV CVA and the Baha Mar receivership and provisional liquidation in the Bahamas.
We act on office holder claims, directors’ disqualifications as well as dealing with international and multi-jurisdictional disputes under both the EU Regulation on Insolvency Proceedings and the Cross-Border Insolvency Regulations.
Chambers offers strength in depth, from senior QCs to recently qualified juniors. Members are experienced in acting for creditors (secured and unsecured), debtors, officeholders and others in insolvency related matters. Chambers is also able to draw on Members’ expertise in other specialised areas of law, including pensions, civil fraud, trusts, asset recovery and property law.
Marcia Shekerdemian QC sits as a Deputy Insolvency and Companies Court Judge.
James Ayliffe QC is co-author of Transaction Avoidance in Insolvencies, OUP, 3rd ed (2018), and the specialist editor of the insolvency chapter in one of the principal practitioner texts on landlord and tenant law, Hill & Redman’s Law of Landlord & Tenant.
Lexa Hilliard QC is a contributor to OUP’s Company Directors – Duties, Liabilities and Remedies 3rd Edn 2017 (edited by Simon Mortimore)
Iain Pester is a contributor to two chapters in Commercial Litigation: Pre-Emptive Remedies (updated annually) on Provisional Liquidators and Injunctions in Insolvency Proceedings
David Pollard has written “Corporate Insolvency: Employment Rights” (2016) and “Corporate Insolvency: Pension Rights” (2016).
Rankings and recognition
Winner of Insolvency & Restructuring Chambers of the Year 2019 and 2020.
Lawdragon’s 2020 list of the 500 leading global restructuring and insolvency lawyers:
Global Restructuring Review Awards 2019:
Nominated for the “most significant restructuring or insolvency-related litigation” for our work on Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi & Brothers (AHAB) v Al-Sanea & Ors.
Chambers UK 2021:
Wilberforce Chambers is noted for its impressive work tackling both corporate and personal insolvency matters. Members are frequently called upon to undertake cases arising both in the UK and further afield, and offer significant expertise in the handling of complex multi-jurisdictional disputes. Areas of particular strength for the set include administrations, CVAs, restructurings and schemes of arrangement. The team is also regularly instructed in cases involving complex pensions and property elements, owing to the set’s established strengths in these areas. An enviable client list includes creditors, debtors and insolvency officeholders.
The Legal 500 UK 2021:
Wilberforce Chambers’ members specialise in corporate and personal insolvency litigation and advice in the UK and offshore. In relation to restructurings, they are able to draw on set-wide expertise in property and pensions. Marcia Shekerdemian QC focuses on contentious insolvency at the cross-roads with fraud, often with cross-border elements; she notably acted for a consortium of 12 Indian banks who have petitioned for the bankruptcy of the former Kingfisher Airways tycoon in Re Vijay Mallya. Lexa Hilliard QC is providing ongoing advice to the monitor of Carillion Canada in connection with its interests in the UK.
Chambers UK 2020:
Wilberforce Chambers houses a strong bench of barristers who are experienced in the representation of creditors, debtors and insolvency office holders in a wide range of insolvency matters. Tenants are adept at handling both corporate and personal insolvencies, and are frequently instructed in both domestic and multi-jurisdictional disputes. The set is particularly well placed to advise on restructurings involving complex pensions and property elements, drawing on the set’s recognised expertise in these areas. Additional areas of strength for the team include directors’ disqualifications, office holder claims and asset recovery matters. Instructing solicitors note Wilberforce’s “good strength and depth“, describing it as “a very high-quality set“.
The Legal 500 UK 2020:
Wilberforce Chambers houses specialists in corporate and personal insolvency litigation and advice, who are often instructed on matters in the UK and offshore. Lexa Hilliard QC, James Bailey QC and Bobby Friedman acted in Re Force India (Formula 1), while Bailey and Marcia Shekerdemian QC were instructed on Re Paul Baxendale Walker. Shekerdemian QC is particularly noted for her expertise in restructuring and insolvency litigation, successfully representing the security trustees in the contested application for the removal of the administrators in Re: Zinc Hotels (Investments) Ltd.
Recent Instructions of note:
- Re Comet Group Limited (2020): An application by the liquidators of Comet Group for directions permitting them to pay funds away to a SPV secured creditors in circumstances where the ICAEW threatened to report the liquidators to their licensing body if they did so.
- Re Carlauren Group Ltd (2019): Highly publicised contested application to place a luxury care home / hotel group into administration.
- AHAB v SAAD (2019): The longest and largest appeal ever heard by the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands including substantial issues of cross-border insolvency, tracing and asset recovery.
- Re Force India (Formula 1) (2019): A consortium led by Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll, father of F1 racing driver Lance Stroll acquired the business and assets of the Force India racing team (owned by Indian billionaire Vijay Mallya), which collapsed into administration mid-season.
- Re Carillion Canada (2018) advising on various issues arising in connection with the Canadian arm of Carillion.
- Re New Look Retailers Limited (2018) advising landlords on rights in relation to CVA.
- Re Biokenetic Europe Limited (2018): representing AstraZeneca UK Limited in the High Court, Northern Ireland on application by administrators for directions re: data protection and medical research records.
- Paylor and others v Bowers and Others  EWHC 2244 (Ch), representing the liquidator and trustees in bankruptcy of the perpetrators of a Forex and teak Ponzi scheme resisting proceedings to discharge a WFO.
- Re Fairhold Securitisation Ltd . In this matter, Marcia Shekerdemian QC acted for the IPs, Michael Bowell and Dermot Coakley, who without their knowledge or consent, were purportedly appointed as administrators of the company. The Judge described the conduct of the would-be appointor, Clifden IOM (No.1) Ltd as “an unprincipled asset grab” and declared that the appointment was void, awarding Marcia’s clients their costs on an indemnity basis.
- Iain Barker v Paul Baxendale-Walker , acting for the petitioning creditor in the insolvency aspect of this long-running litigation.
- Zinc Hotels (Investment) Limited and Top Zinc Ltd v Beveridge and others  EWHC 1936 (Ch), appearing on behalf of the Security and the Security Trustee.
- AHAB v SICL & Ors  Grand Court of the Cayman Islands, acting for liquidators in this multi-jurisdicitonal fraud raising issues including the impact of liquidation on the bona fide purchaser defence.
- Akers v Samba , Supreme Court, s.127 Insolvency Act 1986
- Leeds v Lemos  EWHC 1825 (Ch). Privilege in insolvency.
- Re FREP (Knowle) Ltd  Chancery Division. COMI and removing administrators under para 81 of Sch B1 to the Insolvency Act 1986.
- Orb a.r.l Acting for the secured creditor and litigation funder of this Jersey company in the framework of a multi-million pound litigation funding arrangement following the collapse of the Orb v Ruhan proceedings.
- Pollock v Reed  Chancery Division, pensions restructuring
- Fieldfisher LLP v Pennyfeathers Limited  EWHC 566 (Ch): arbitration clauses and administration
- Re Baha Mar Ltd , Bahamas
- Re Whyte , Chancery Division
- Re Ackerman [2012 to date]
- Re Sphinx, Cayman Islands (acting for the liquidator in relation to the collapse of a prime brokerage house)
- Re Lancelot, Cayman Islands
- Isis v Kaupthing
- Weavering Macro Fixed Income Fund Limited (in liquidation) v Ernst v Young, Cayman Islands
- Lehman Bros International Europe Ltd – acting for the liquidator in relation to the distribution of US $19bn of assets, and acting for creditors, office-holders and the Pensions Regulator in connection with pensions matters.
- Re Nortel – acting for creditors, office-holders and the Pensions Regulator in connection with pensions matters
- Re Storm Funding (in administration)  Bus L R 454: rule against “double-dipping”
- Capitol Films litigation  2 B.C.L.C.359
- Isis v Kaupthing – representing the liquidators of Isis Ltd, an Isle of Man subsidiary of Kaupthing Bank, in in highly contentious insolvency proceedings in England and the Isle of Man involving GBP500 million of claims