Courts with Insolvency Jurisdiction

October 2007

7.7 Where a company may be wound up

The High Court has jurisdiction to wind up any company registered in England and Wales [note 1].  A county court may wind up any company whose registered office is within the district covered by that court, providing that the share capital of the company does not exceed £120,000 (in which case the proceedings must be brought in the High Court) [note 2].

Where a company has its registered office in the United Kingdom, but its centre of main interest is in another country of the European Union the UK court will have no jurisdiction to open the main proceedings against the company [note 3]. 


7.8 Where a bankruptcy order may be made

Both the High Court and the county courts have jurisdiction throughout England and Wales to deal with the affairs of insolvent individuals.  Generally, county courts will deal with the proceedings allocated to the insolvency district for that court and the High Court will deal with cases allocated to the London insolvency district [note 4].  There are, however, certain instances where the bankruptcy petition must be presented in the High Court, namely:


  • If the petition is presented by a Government Department and is based upon an unsatisfied execution or the statutory demand indicates an intention to petition in the High Court; [note 5]
  • If the petition is presented by the Financial Services Authority under section 372(4)(a) of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 and the statutory demand indicates an intention to petition in the High Court [note 6];
  • It the debtor has resided or carried on business within the London insolvency district for the greater part of the six months immediately prior to the presentation of the petition, or for a longer period in those six months than in any other insolvency district; [note 7]
  • If the debtor resides outside England and Wales (including those residing in Northern Ireland or Scotland) – though, see paragraph 7.9 regarding debtors with a centre of interest in another European Union country; [note 8]
  • If the petitioner cannot ascertain the debtor’s current residence, or his/her place of business. [note 9]


A bankruptcy petition cannot be presented unless the debtor is domiciled in England and Wales, is personally present in England and Wales on the day on which the petition is presented or has, at any time in the last three years, been ordinarily resident or carried on a business in England and Wales [note 10].


7.9 Cases where debtor is based in European Union

Where the debtor has his/her centre of main interest in a country of the European Union(with the exception of Denmark which opted out of the relevant regulation), the petition should be presented in the country of that centre of main interest [note 11].  Where the debtor’s centre of main interest is outside of the European Union, or is in Denmark, the petition may be presented at the High Court [note 12].

The centre of main interest has no definition beyond it being the country in which the debtor carries out the majority of their economic activity.


7.10 Voluntary arrangement in force

Where an Individual Voluntary Arrangement is in force the petition should be presented in the court in which the nominee’s report was filed [note 13]. 


7.11 Proceedings commenced in the wrong court

Nothing in the insolvency legislation operates to invalidate any proceedings commenced in the wrong court simply because they are in the wrong court [note 14].  This provision may be invoked to validate proceedings which have been mistakenly brought in a court which has no insolvency jurisdiction at all [note 15].  Where winding up or bankruptcy proceedings are commenced in the wrong court, that court has the power to order the transfer of the proceedings to the correct court.  Alternatively, the court may order that the proceedings be continued there or that they may be struck out [note 16].


[Back to Part 1 - General right of transfer] [Onto Part 3 - Transfer of insolvency proceedings]