COVID-19 – Insolvency Related Issues
Filing of Section 682 Reports
1. Notwithstanding current circumstances, statutory deadlines continue to apply. In this regard, it is noted that liquidators of insolvent companies are obliged to submit their section 682 reports within 6 months of their appointment. The ODCE has no discretion to extend this deadline. However, the Office does appreciate that liquidators may be operating in a severely constrained manner due to current movement restrictions.
2. As a temporary measure, the ODCE has determined that we will accept the submission of Section 682 Reports, including all relevant attachments, by email in either Word or PDF formats (to email@example.com). However, this is subject to the submission of a hard copy of the report, duly signed, as soon as possible thereafter. This should be the same as the version submitted by email. If further information has been received in the interim, the liquidation should include any such information in a separate further Report.
3. While we will endeavour to consider any reports submitted in this manner in accordance with usual deadlines, we will not be able to issue a final decision on whether, or not, to relieve liquidators from the obligation to apply for the restriction of the directors of the companies concerned if we have not have received the hard copy of the form, duly signed by the liquidator.
4. As is currently the case, if a liquidator has not completed his/her investigations into a company at the time a report is due, they should still submit a report within the specified deadlines outlining progress recorded to date and give an indication of the issues still being investigated and the expected time required to complete their investigations. While the ODCE does recognise that liquidators may experience additional difficulties in progressing liquidations at this time, the Office does expect that reasonable efforts, while still respecting Government guidelines, should be made to expedite matters as quickly as possible.
Deadline for making Restriction (section 819) applications
5. In a small number of cases, decisions not to relieve liquidators will have been issued and the relevant applications on foot of section 819 have not yet been made. In some cases, the applicable statutory time limits will already have passed while in others, they are likely to fall while covid-19 related movement restrictions still apply.
6. The Central Office of the High Court, Four Courts, Dublin 7 is currently open, by appointment, to facilitate the making of applications for essential business only. It is understood that the list of applications defined as essential business includes the issue of proceedings where the statutory time limit to issue will expire shortly. Accordingly, it should still be possible to initiate proceedings.
7. However, the Office would note that it does have the power to grant extension of the time limits for making such applications. In this regard, the Office will consider any applications for such extensions on a case by case basis taking into account current circumstances.
Restriction or Disqualification Undertakings
8. In cases where the Office has determined that relief should not be granted to liquidators, we will usually offer the directors concerned the opportunity to give a Restriction or Disqualification Undertaking.
9. Generally, we allow directors 3 weeks to consider the offer of an undertaking. This time limit can, on application, be extended by the Office. As part of this process, the Office lays considerable importance on directors taking independent legal advice in respect of the offer of an undertaking. Given that most legal advisers will continue to offer their services, albeit on a more restrictive basis, during the current restrictions, the Office does not consider that it is necessary or appropriate to give a general extension of the time limit for returning signed undertakings. However, the Office will consider any applications for an extension of the time limit to consider undertakings on a case by case basis taking into account current circumstances.