UK: English Supreme Court Refuses To Enforce U.S. Bankruptcy Avoidance Action Judgment


The recent judgment of the Supreme Court in the joined cases of Rubin and another v Eurofinance SA and others and New Cap Reinsurance Corporation (in liquidation) and another v A E Grant and others [2012] UKSC 46, issued on 24 October 2012, established that judgments avoiding pre-bankruptcy transactions ("avoidance judgments") made by non-EU foreign courts (including U.S. bankruptcy courts) have no special enforceability status in England and Wales compared to ordinary judgments.

In particular, the decision confirmed that if the U.S. Bankruptcy Court makes a default avoidance judgment against a person with no presence in the U.S. and who has not otherwise submitted to the jurisdiction of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, that judgment would be unenforceable in England and Wales.

Rubin highlights the existence of certain jurisdictional limits in cross-border insolvency proceedings, and provides certainty to non-U.S. persons who are counterparties to a debtor in U.S. bankruptcy court proceedings.

English Legal Framework for Recognition of Foreign Insolvency Judgments

Rubin concerns the judgments made against the counterparties of a debtor who were not present in the U.S. and who had not submitted themselves to U.S. jurisdiction.

Under English common law, judgments made by a foreign court against a person would typically only be recognized if the defendant is within, or has submitted to, the jurisdiction of the foreign court. Judgments against persons with no presence in the foreign country and who have not agreed to, or participated in, the proceedings of that foreign court would therefore not be enforceable in England.

The critical issue in Rubin was whether the common law position described above should apply to avoidance judgments or if there should be additional circumstances in which the English Court could recognize these judgments, given their close connection to insolvency proceedings. In particular, the Court considered whether:

  1. there should be a separate set of rules applicable to avoidance judgments under English common law, in accordance with the controversial decision by the English Privy Council in the Cambridge Gas/Navigator1case; and
  2. the UNCITRAL Model Law implemented by the Cross Border Insolvency Regulations 2006 (the "Model Law") enabled the English Court to recognize avoidance judgments made by a foreign court where the centre of main interests of the debtor fell within the jurisdiction of that foreign court.

In the joined case of New Cap Reinsurance Corporation, the Court also considered whether section 426 of the Insolvency Act 1986 gave the English Court the ability to recognize avoidance judgments by courts of certain other Commonwealth countries, the relevant country being Australia in this case. This issue was not applicable to Rubin as the United States does not fall within the ambit of section 426.

Background to Rubin

Eurofinance SA, a BVI company, settled an English trust, The Consumers Trust ("TCT"), which was administered by the Appellants. In December 2005, TCT was placed into Chapter 11 proceedings in New York. Two years later, adversary proceedings were commenced against, inter alia, the Appellants in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in respect of fraudulent transfer pre- and post Chapter 11 proceedings. The Appellants did not defend or otherwise submit to the jurisdiction of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. As a result, a judgment was entered against the Appellants, in July 2008, in default of appearance.

Supreme Court Judgment

The Supreme Court (overturning the position reached by the Court of Appeal on these points) ruled that:

  1. Cambridge Gas/Navigator had been wrongly decided, and that there was no basis under English common law to recognize foreign avoidance judgments in circumstances where ordinary judgments would not have been recognized (i.e. where the defendant had not submitted to the jurisdiction of the foreign court)
  2. Neither the Model Law nor section 426 gave the English Court additional powers to recognize avoidance judgments made by a foreign court.

This conclusion goes some way towards resolving prior uncertainties in the market, by closing down a number of avenues under which foreign avoidance judgments might arguably have been capable of being recognized in England.

It should be noted that an aspect of English cross-border insolvency recognition that was not addressed by these cases is the impact of the EU Regulation on Cross-border Insolvency (the "EU Regulation"). It is accepted that English Courts are able under the EU Regulation to recognize avoidance judgments made by foreign courts of another EU country (other than Denmark) if the debtor's centre of main interest falls within that EU country. However, the debtors in Rubin and New Cap Reinsurance Corporation were based outside of the EU.


1. Cambridge Gas Transportation Corporation v Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors of Navigator Holdings plc [2006] UKPC 26

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions