HM Insights

Cross border recovery

Although based in Glasgow, Harper Macleod's reach around the world continues to grow with our team involved in cases in almost every continent.

In one case the debtor was domiciled in Scotland. The agent had been unable to identify any assets in Scotland and it appeared that there would be no recovery for creditors. It came to the agent's attention that the debtor was married to a wife who was domiciled in Canada. Although the family assets were in the wife's name, she decided to raise divorce proceedings in Vancouver. This meant that the debtor became entitled to make a claim against his wife for a share of the matrimonial assets. That entitlement to make a claim was an asset of the debtor and ,therefore, vested in the AiB. We arranged for lawyers in British Columbia to have the AiB made a party to the action and to then  negotiate with the wife's agents. As a result, settlement terms were agreed and the wife paid the trustee CDN$140,000.

We currently have another case in Canada that relates to the recovery of a property owned by the debtor in Toronto. Steps are being taken to register the Scottish sequestration before taking title to the property itself. It will then be sold.

In another case a debtor based in Wick was proving uncooperative. The agent became aware that the debtor had an interest in the will of her late-step father who died domiciled in New South Wales, Australia. Further investigations revealed the identity of the lawyer dealing with the estate in Australia, but he was even less cooperative that the debtor. Eventually, following the involvement of the New South Wales Bar Association and local lawyers, we were successful in recovering the debtor's interest in the estate. That interest amounted to around £40,000

We have had several cases in France and our Parisian lawyer is currently taking steps to recover a gîte in the Dordogne . He is also progressing what may turn out to be our action of first division and sale in France (unhindered by Section 40 issues).

Closer to home we are presently taking steps to recover a property in Southern Ireland which the debtors (a husband and wife) "forgot" to disclose to the trustee. The Scottish bankruptcy has been recognised by the Irish courts and again steps are being taken to take title before the property will be realised for the benefit of creditors.

We have also taken action to recover assets and pursue debtors in Spain, New Zealand, the Channel Islands, Thailand and the United States. We also regularly recover assets in England.

The law relating to cross-border recognition of insolvencies is complex and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. We have developed an extensive network of contacts in other jurisdictions who can be called upon to provide specialist advice in relation to local bankruptcy law, the recognition of Scottish sequestrations and the recovery of assets (whether they be moveable or heritable).

Sadly in none of the cases that we have dealt with for the AiB has she sanctioned us travelling to the other jurisdictions to personally supervise the recovery process!