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HFW acts for BVI provisional liquidators in contested Hong Kong recognition proceedings

7 December 2022

Global, sector-focused law firm HFW has secured an important judgment for BVI provisional liquidators in the latest development in the Hong Kong Court’s reassessment of its approach to recognition of overseas liquidators (Re RZ3262019 Limited [2022] HKCFI 3602).

HFW instructed Mr Look Chan Ho and acted for the applicant BVI-appointed joint provisional liquidators (the “JPLs”) of a BVI-incorporated joint venture holding company in contested recognition proceedings. The JPLs sought the Court’s recognition in order to assist their investigations into the company’s recent affairs.

Referring to his June 2022 decision in Re Global Brands Group Holding Limited [2022] HKCFI 1789, Mr Justice Harris noted that the JPLs’ appointment, being other than in the company’s centre of main interests (“COMI”), was not one to which the Court would grant the recognition and assistance it would generally grant to COMI-appointed liquidators.

However, recognising the exceptional circumstances of the JPLs’ application, and consistent with the principles outlined in Global Brands, Mr Justice Harris ordered that the JPLs be recognised as the company’s “authorised agents” in Hong Kong, “entitled to take action on its behalf or cause the company itself to instigate action, in order to advance or protect the company’s interests“. The order granted (which the Court, no doubt with future applicants in mind, reproduced in its judgment in full), reflects “that to the extent ordered by the BVI court, the JPLs have stepped into the shoes of the directors of the Company“.

Re RZ3262019 Limited is an important judgment and a welcome clarification of the Hong Kong Court’s approach to non-COMI liquidations following Global Brands. The Court’s conscious move away from insolvency language and its embrace of principles of private international law, plus the specific and effective terms of the order granted, will provide welcome practical guidance for overseas insolvency practitioners and places Hong Kong’s post-Global Brands common law foreign recognition regime at the cutting edge of cross-border insolvency.

Noel Campbell, Head of Disputes APAC, HFW: “We are proud to have assisted our client in obtaining a positive result in a challenging case. Having the support of our BVI office has also illustrated our ability to seamlessly integrate our offshore and onshore capabilities for our clients’ benefit.”

HFW’s team in Hong Kong was led by Partner Noel Campbell and included Senior Associate Edward Beeley and Associate Jade Lau.

Partner Scott Cruickshank, Senior Associate James Henson, and Associate Hugo Costa Liziario of HFW’s BVI office also acted for the JPLs in the contested winding-up proceedings in the BVI.

Set out below are links to the Hong Kong judiciary’s published versions of RZ3262019 and Global Brands:

(1) RZ3262019:

(2) Global Brands: