In our recent insight relating to petitioning for examinership in these current challenging times (available here), we noted that at the time of writing that examinership petitions did not fit neatly within the list of limited court sittings put forward by the High Court and the Circuit Court arising from the Covid-19 pandemic. However, in a welcome development on 29 March 2020, the Court Service published an updated notice in relation to the procedures in place for these Courts with effect from 30 March 2020 entitled “Notice for practitioners and members of the public requiring services from court offices in respect of criminal, family law and civil law business”. These procedures apply from Monday, 30 March 2020 to Tuesday, 14 April 2020.
The Court Service has now expressly stated that the Central Office of the High Court is open by appointment only to facilitate the making of applications for essential business. The filing of examinership petitions and related papers is now expressly permitted but an appointment must be made in advance.
While there is no express procedure in place for how such applications are to be dealt with in Court, it is anticipated that these papers will then be assigned to a Judge who would consider and hear the petition on an urgent basis. While it is conceivable that with the written prior consent of any relevant notice parties, the Judge assigned to the matter could consider any such application remotely (without hearing oral submissions) and issue his/her judgment electronically, now that examinerships have been classed as urgent business for the purposes of the above Central Office notice, it would appear that the Courts will indeed hear such petitions on an urgent basis.
We also understand that the courts are continuing to hear winding up petitions that have already been advertised and are returnable week in accordance with the Companies Act 2014.
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.