BusinessBusiness RecoveryThe spirit of dunkirk lives on

The spirit of dunkirk lives on

This week, the nation has been remembering the British soldiers who valiantly struggled to get their ships safely out of Dunkirk, amid the wreckage of the European order.

Few viewers of BBC2’s re-enaction of the events in 1940 will have known that a similar scene unfolded only 12 months ago – when the valiant heroes were business recovery specialists.

The drama revolved around the Dawn Merchant,a ship saved by an English administrator from the clutches of French officials, who seized the vessel at Dunkirk.

It was the finest example of how the old European administration order had been turned to rubble, demolished not by a fascist army, but European Union Regulation 1346.

Under 1346, the laws of the member country, where an administration order is first made, take precedence with no need for old-style validation in other European courts.

Cenargo Limited, the Dawn Merchant’s owner, had been placed in administration by the English High Court of Justice when the ship berthed, and was arrested in Dunkirk.

On learning of the ship’s seizure, Cenargo’s British administrator showed the English court order to the authorising French court. The French had no choice but to allow the Dawn Merchant to be taken safely from Dunkirk.

Chris Ashurst, a partner at Mazars, says: ‘It would be true to say that the French creditors were surprised at the impact of the English insolvency proceedings on their rights as they understood them under French law.’

But how can British insolvency practitioners avoid making similar mistakes? International law firm Holman Fenwick & Willan says checks should be carried out in a company’s”centre of main interests’, and other member states where it has ‘establishments’ before any seizure. Sadly, there is as yet no European database of insolvency proceedings to help with this.

Winston Churchill called Dunkirk ‘a miracle of deliverance’. The case of the Dawn Merchant demonstrates that retrieving seized assets from other member states need not be so tricky. Just don’t let anyone tell you the ‘Dunkirk spirit’ is dead.

  • Brian Moher writes on business recovery for Accountancy Age.

Related Articles

Carillion CFO blew whistle over 'sloppy accounting' months before collapse

Business Recovery Carillion CFO blew whistle over 'sloppy accounting' months before collapse

3m Alia Shoaib, Reporter
Toys R Us UK and Maplin enter into administration after failing to secure buyers

Business Recovery Toys R Us UK and Maplin enter into administration after failing to secure buyers

3m Alia Shoaib, Reporter
How to avoid a Carillion collapse

Business Recovery How to avoid a Carillion collapse

4m Russell-Cooke
Carillion collapse: The week so far and industry reaction

Business Recovery Carillion collapse: The week so far and industry reaction

4m Emma Smith, Managing Editor
Kingston Smith & Partners appointed trustees in bankruptcy of ex-Newcastle United footballer

Business Recovery Kingston Smith & Partners appointed trustees in bankruptcy of ex-Newcastle United footballer

4m Emma Smith, Managing Editor
Carillion: PwC appointed as special managers – what happens now?

Business Recovery Carillion: PwC appointed as special managers – what happens now?

4m Emma Smith, Managing Editor
Investment firm acquires Avon Steel Company Limited

Business Recovery Investment firm acquires Avon Steel Company Limited

6m Emma Smith, Managing Editor
Manchester law firm enters into administration

Business Recovery Manchester law firm enters into administration

6m Emma Smith, Managing Editor