In 2013, the United Kingdom Supreme Court handed down a seminal judgment on the law of corporate veil, Prest v Petrodel Resources Ltd and Others UKSC 34, in which Lord Sumption proposed the evasion and concealment principles. The judgment is important for businesses holding assets which could be vulnerable to pursuit by spouses in divorce proceedings. Case ID. The concept is central to the existence of a corporate body. Published by Adam Forster, Senior Associate. Mr Prest was a wealthy businessman operating in the oil sector. short, after Mr and Mrs Prest divorced, Moylan J. awarded Mrs Prest a sum of £17.5 million as a fair division of Mr Prest’s assets. In this context, Lord Sumption sheds further light on the doctrine of abuse of corporate personality under English law. The case concerned a very high value divorce.. Prest v Petrodel Resources Ltd [2013] UKSC 34, [2013] 2 AC 415 is a leading UK company law decision of the UK Supreme Court concerning the nature of the doctrine of piercing the corporate veil, resulting trusts and equitable proprietary remedies in the context of English family law. The Supreme Court had to consider whether it is open to the court, in ancillary relief proceedings, to treat the assets of a company, of which a spouse is the sole controller, as being assets to which that spouse is ‘entitled’ for the purposes of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. Prest v Petrodel Resources Ltd [2013] UKSC 34. As the legislation is so similar, Hong Kong courts often look for guidance in England. In the light of this finding, Mr Prest had not used the corporate structures for wrongdoing. It was established, inter alia, that Mr Prest was the The court was asked as to the power of the court to order the transfer of assets owned entirely in the company’s names. This is largely as a result of the case of VTB Capital Plc. The recent judgment in SLA v HKL (FCMC 75000/ 2010) may be Hong Kong’s first case to apply the recent UK Supreme Court landmark decision of Prest v Petrodel [2013] UKSC 34. UKSC 2013/0004. In some instances the properties had been Lord Neuberger, Lord Walker, Lady Hale, Lord Mance, Lord Clarke, Lord Wilson, Lord Sumption. The case concerned a very high value divorce.. Instead, overturning the High Court decision and following various authorities the Court of Appeal held that the corporate veil should only be pierced in very limited circumstances, that is: On 12 June 2013, seven members of the Supreme Court allowed Mrs Prest's appeal. The judgment of the Supreme Court in Prest v Petrodel Resources Ltd [2013] UKSC 34 was eagerly anticipated by family and corporate lawyers alike. In the weeks preceding the Supreme Court’s decision in Petrodel Resources Ltd v Prest, 1 the case was the subject of much attention and commentary, both in the media and legal circles. In 2013, the case of Prest v Petrodel [2013] UKSC 34 left the family law fraternity debating and divided. In this case, the husband had effectively purchased a number of properties in England which he had put into the names The relatively short judgment in the United Kingdom Supreme Court case of Prest v Petrodel Resources Ltd1 (herein, Prest) has garnered vociferous interest from academics and practitioners. In part satisfaction of this sum, the judge ordered three Petrodel group companies to transfer the seven properties in question to Mrs Prest. Appeal by husband against judgment summons under section 5 of the Debtors Act 1869, granted in respect of non-payment of maintenance arrears. It came as little surprise that the Petrodel group companies challenged the first instance decision in the Court of Appeal. For instance, in June 2016, the Hong Kong Court of Appeal in CWG v MH (Interest in off-shore companies) CACV 80-83/2013 considered a case involving the disputed ownership of shares in a number of offshore companies. In CWG v MH, some of the offshore provision was made prior to the handover of Hong Kong as asset protection in 1997. The article seeks to determine whether the Supreme Court clarified the rule in the case and concludes from an examination of the literature that the court clarified some but not all issues relating to the rule. It therefore appears that where litigants can show that the relevant tests are satisfied, the courts will allow them to obtain judgement against assets that were intentionally placed out of their reach. But in Prest this was achieved via a different route. 750 RPC people united by a passion for client service. VTB's case was that, inter alia, the loan facility agreement should be enforced against individuals who were not party to it, which VTB argued could be achieved by piercing the corporate veil. The Supreme Court has just handed down its judgment in the landmark case of Prest v.Petrodel. The Supreme Court has recently given judgment in the case Prest (Appellant) v Petrodel Resources Limited and others (Respondents), following an appeal from the Court of Appeal. company law after Prest v Petrodel decision Ariel Mucha The Supreme Court case Prest v Petrodel Resources Ltd [2013] 2 AC 415 addresses the issue of … Prest v Petrodel – a new court approach to corporate structures Background Prest v Petrodel was a “big money” divorce case, concerning assets worth in excess of £17.5million. By classifying veil-piercing as evasion, his Lordship suggested that concealment cases were … The court found that he had access to the underlying assets of their subsidiaries and his personal connection with one of the companies in particular was manifest – the company held the property which housed his children rent free, the office where he kept his collection of classic cars and provided all the family expenses including his mother-in-law’s credit card expenses. The circumstances in which property held by a company can be attributed to those who control it gained considerable publicity in Prest v Petrodel Resources Ltd & Others [2013] UKSC 34.The case played out some of the historical tensions between the Family and One of Mr Prest’s failings was to provide funding without properly documented loans or capital subscription. In many respects, Prest has done nothing to re-shape the court's attitude towards piercing the corporate veil. The Supreme Court has handed down a landmark judgement in favour of Mrs Prest in high profile matrimonial dispute. For the past 30 years orders have been made against the assets of a company that are considered to be the alter ego of a spouse to satisfy a capital award made by the court in respect of the other spouse.1In 2012 the Court of Appeals ruling in Petrodel Resources Ltd & Ors v Prest & Ors2set a new precedent stopping an ex-wife being able to investigate a company’s assets when she believes her husband has concealed assets within that company. Prest v Petrodel – the commentaries. Many of the assets (primarily properties in London) were held by overseas companies controlled by the husband. The court found that the manner in which the seven properties had become vested in the Petrodel group companies meant that, in fact, the properties were held on trust for Mr Prest, such that he was their beneficial owner. The issue of beneficial ownership often comes before the courts in Hong Kong for cases where assets are held on behalf of other family members or through corporate or trust structures. In this case, the husband had effectively purchased a number of properties in England which he had put into the names of offshore companies. However, in applying those exceptional circumstances, the Supreme Court held Mr Prest had not deliberately attempted to stymie Mrs Prest's claim. Both sides of the profession were affected differently. The Supreme Court has recently given judgment in the case Prest (Appellant) v Petrodel Resources Limited and others (Respondents), following an appeal from the Court of Appeal. Justices. As is so often the case, the divorce proceedings were acrimonious and protracted. The same point applies to Jones v Lipman, para 135. Prest v Petrodel Resources Ltd & Others [2013] UKSC 34 Introduction. Prest v Petrodel Resources Ltd and Others: SC 12 Jun 2013 In the course of ancillary relief proceedings in a divorce, questions arose regarding company assets owned by the husband. paradigm examples of the “concealment” principle in application), it is. Sir Michael Birt endorsed this more restrictive test and concluded that in the circumstances of the case there was no basis for piercing the corporate veil. Also see Lady Hale’s distinction in para 92. It is important to bear in mind the principles in Prest when considering the complexities of offshore corporate investments in divorce settlements. articulated by Lord Sumption in Prest v Petrodel Resources Ltd [2013] 3 WLR 1 (“Petrodel”) in the light of recent English and Singapore case law and, in particular, to interrogate the notion of veil-piercing as a remedy of last resort, as well as the concealment and … Since Salomon v Salomon, 1 it has been well established in UK law that a company has a separate personality to that of its members, and that such members cannot be liable for the debts of a company beyond their initial financial contribution to it. At issue was whether the family courts can pierce the corporate veil when assets are owned beneficially by a company, but controlled by one of the spouses. This is a case with regard to family law. The Supreme Court case Prest v Petrodel Resources Ltd [2013] 2 AC 415 addresses the issue of whether, and if so in what way, the court is competent to pierce the corporate veil save any specific statutory authority to do so. Whatever your industry or situation, we relish change, thrive on solutions and love building long-term relationships with our clients. At issue was whether the family courts can pierce the corporate veil when assets are owned beneficially by a company, but controlled by one of the spouses. In 2013, the case of Prest v Petrodel [2013] UKSC 34 left the family law fraternity debating and divided. to hide behind the corporate veil) for improper purposes; and/or. For the past 30 years orders have been made against the assets of a company that are considered to be the alter ego of a spouse to satisfy a capital award made by the court in respect of the other spouse.1In 2012 the Court of Appeals ruling in Petrodel Resources Ltd & Ors v Prest & Ors2set a new precedent stopping an ex-wife being able to investigate a company’s assets when she believes her husband has concealed assets within that company. Pey Woan Lee, 'The Enigma of Veil- Piercing' (2015) 26 (1) ICCLR 28, 30. The judgment of the Supreme Court in Prest v Petrodel Resources Ltd [2013] UKSC 34 was eagerly anticipated by family and corporate lawyers alike. introduction The recent decision of the Supreme Court in Prest v Petrodel Resources Ltd 1 has clarified and restricted the circumstances in which the corporate veil between those dealing with companies and those operating them can be pierced so that the latter can made liable to the former instead of liability stopping with the company itself. The background to these proceedings is extensive and, indeed, is well known to those who practise family law, in consequence of an earlier sequence of appeals which brought the case before the Supreme Court (Prest v Petrodel Resources Ltd. [2013] UKSC 34; [2013] 2 AC 415). The court was asked as to the power of the court to order the transfer of … INTRODUCTION Rogers AJA in a New South Wales case commented "there is no common, underlying principle, which underlies the occasional decision of the courts to pierce the corporate veil". RAP defaulted on the loan and VTB also learned that the security it had taken for the loan was of significantly lower value than it had been led to believe. Para. in many evasion cases – indeed, evasion is commonly achieved. The legal battle is one of the most high-profile divorce cases seen in England. The Supreme Court in Prest v Petrodel was also concerned with achieving justice for the claimant, and in the VTB case Lord Neuberger said: ‘it may be right for the law to permit the veil to be pierced in certain circumstances in order to defeat injustice’. Plainly, the decision will also be of note to those engaged in advising high net-worth individuals in relation to their marital affairs. By classifying veil-piercing as evasion, his Lordship suggested that concealment cases were not truly veil-piercing. The case of Prest v Petrodel Resources Limited and Others [2013] UKSC 34 has been a battle, through the English High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, between the principles of corporate integrity on the one hand and fairness on divorce on the other, as much as between Mr and Mrs Prest and the companies in which Mr Prest had an interest. The Supreme Court ordered that seven disputed properties, owned by companies controlled by Mr Prest, be transferred to Mrs Prest in partial satisfaction of their £17.5 million divorce settlement. 34 William Day, “Skirting around the Issue: The Corporate Veil after Prest v Petrodel”. The fact that Mr Prest had sought to conceal this fact in evidence, and that both he and the companies failed to cooperate with disclosure, permitted the court to infer that Mr Prest and the companies were attempting to hide the true beneficial ownership of the properties. Introduction. In 2011 a High Court ruling ordered Mr Prest, the founder of a Nigerian oil business Petrodel Resources Ltd, to transfer 14 properties which were tied up in his businesses to Yasmin Prest … A company cannot be deemed to be the alter ego of a party to the marriage, even if that party clearly operated the company, unless there had been some impropriety. The position appeared reasonably clear but after that, however, came the much publicised matrimonial case of Prest v Petrodel and, more recently, the competition case of Akzo Nobel v The Competition Commission. Justices. Case ID. Prest (Appellant) v Petrodel Resources Limited & Others (Respondents) [2013] UKSC 34 . The set of circumstances in which the ‘lifting‘ process in respect of shareholder liability may be triggered is set out in the test from the Supreme Court case of Prest v Petrodel Resources Ltd [2013] UKSC 34. This article will critically evaluate the significance of the Prest v Petrodel Resources Ltd[1] decision in light of the corporate veil doctrine. Mr and Mrs Prest (who had dual British and Nigerian citizenship) had their matrimonial home in London but it was determined by the court that Mr Prest was based in Monaco. The leading judgment was given by Lord Sumption. Here, the evidence showed that the husband not only received an allowance from his mother, but also was actively involved in his mother’s business affairs. Prest and Beyond – Part 1 and Part 2 (Companies) 1. Piercing the corporate veil: a new era post Prest v Petrodel That a company has a separate legal personality from its shareholders is a well-established common law rule, derived initially from the case of Salomon v A Salomon AC 22 and reiterated in more recent authorities such as Adams v Cape Industries Ch 433. The Supreme Court has handed down a landmark judgement in favour of Mrs Prest in high profile matrimonial dispute. The Law Society of Hong Kong | Sweet & Maxwell | Westlaw Asia | Contact Us. Google Scholar Claim by Mrs. Prest for ancillary relief under section 23 and 24 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 in divorce proceedings against Mr. Prest. In reaching its decision, the court had to consider the law surrounding the piercing of the corporate veil. Lloyd’s Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly 2014(2): 269 – 296 . Mujih E, 'Piercing the corporate veil as a remedy after Prest V Petrodel resources Ltd: Inching towards Abolition' [2016] Westlaw 17,17. Prest was of particular interest because of the legal cross-over between family law and corporate law. The Court of Appeal considered the practice of family courts seeking to do precisely that under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 in cases where the company is wholly or largely owned by the spouse. The Court of Appeal agreed with the trial judge that these underlying assets could be taken into account in the division of the marital assets and looked at the reality of the situation from past conduct. Mr and Mrs Prest (who had dual British and Nigerian citizenship) had their matrimonial home in London but it was determined by the court that Mr Prest was based in Monaco. Judgment details. Introduction. Day, W (2014) Skirting around the issue: The corporate veil after Prest v Petrodel. In summary, VTB was the English claimant in an action to recover c.US$225 million loaned to "RAP", a Russian company, for the purpose of RAP's proposed acquisition of Nutritek. VTB Capital plc v Nutritek International Corp [2013] UKSC 5, [2013] 2 AC 337 is an English company law case, concerning piercing the corporate veil for fraud.. Accordingly, the court found that those properties could be applied to satisfy Mrs Prest’s divorce settlement. Prest v Petrodel Resources Ltd emphasises the importance of properly and transparently running companies. Many of the assets (primarily properties in London) were held by overseas companies controlled by the husband. Prest was of particular interest because of the legal cross-over between family law and corporate law. The Supreme Court ordered that seven disputed properties, owned by companies controlled by Mr Prest, be transferred to Mrs Prest in partial satisfaction of their £17.5 million divorce settlement. The legal battle is one of the most high-profile divorce cases seen in England. Prest and Beyond – Part 1 and Part 2 (Companies) 1. Prest v Petrodel Resources Ltd and Others: SC 12 Jun 2013 In the course of ancillary relief proceedings in a divorce, questions arose regarding company assets owned by the husband. One of Mr Prest’s failings was to provide funding without properly documented loans or capital subscription. The relatively short and significant judgment in the Supreme Court case of Prest v Petrodel Resources Ltd has gathered vociferous interest from academics and practitioners.It was of key interest as it was a legal cross over between family law and company law. introduction The recent decision of the Supreme Court in Prest v Petrodel Resources Ltd 1 has clarified and restricted the circumstances in which the corporate veil between those dealing with companies and those operating them can be pierced so that the latter can made liable to the former instead of liability stopping with the company itself. Judgment (PDF) Press summary (PDF) Judgment on BAILII … However, as in the case of VTB, the court could not be persuaded to pierce the corporate veil. The decision in Prest over… The Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) Private Client team advises international high and ultra-high net worth individuals and their families on all matters affecting their business, personal and family wealth, as well as the institutions entrusted with the effective management of that wealth. PIERCING THE CORPORATE VEIL: THE POSITION FOLLOWING PETRODEL V PREST. This essay will argue the decision has done little to fault the Salomon principle. Google Scholar The Court of Appeal held that the family court should not allow the properties to be taken into account in the division of assets because the companies were the beneficial owners of the properties and upheld the company law principle that there is nothing special about family law and the courts cannot pierce the corporate veil. Prest v Petrodel raises issues about what structures can be utilised and Akzo Nobel in what structures companies can establish notwithstanding that such structure are common place. The court was plainly convinced that Mr Prest was likely to attempt to avoid making payment to Mrs Prest and ordered that seven UK properties nominally owned by the "Petrodel group" be transferred to Mrs Prest. In some instances the properties had been At various stages, Mr Prest was reticent and resisted providing accurate information relating to his income and assets. 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