HC Deb 02 August 1866 vol 184 cc1897-8

said, he wished to ask Mr. Attorney General, Whether, with reference to the number of Insolvent Estates now in course of being wound up under the orders of the Court of Chancery, and the magnitude of the interests dependent upon them, any arrangements are in contemplation, by which the delay which must arise in some instances, by reason of the long vacation, in the administration of these Estates, and the distribution of their assets, may be avoided?


said, he understood that the hon. Gentleman's question related more particularly to the Companies which were being wound up by the Court of Chancery, because they had been unable to meet their engagements. Considerable misapprehension existed as to the precise functions of the Court of Chancery with respect to these Companies. When an order was made for winding up one of those Companies the Court of Chancery appointed a liquidator or liquidators, being influenced in such appointment by the wishes of the majority of those who were concerned. When the liquidators were appointed it was they who really administered the affairs, collected the assets, discharged the debts, and also paid the dividends. The Court did not interfere beyond this — that the checks paid by the liquidators required to be signed by one of the chief clerks of one of the Judges. A general order had been issued some days since by the Lord Chancellor as to the signing of those checks, directing that it should be done during the vacation at the chambers of any Judge which were open; and the chambers of one Judge were always open. Therefore no delay would occur in the vacation as to those payments being made. He ought to explain that a case might possibly arise—although it would be entirely exceptional—in which sonic question of law might be raised as to whether some particular individual was entitled or not to receive a dividend, or was liable to make a contribution to the assets of the Company. If a question of that kind presented itself—and they were very rare, perhaps not one in many thousand cases—it would share the ordinary fate of any question which arose in litigation at the time when the Courts were not sitting for the transaction of business.