On Monday 14 November 2016 at 10.12 a.m. Gavin Bates and Gary Pettit from PBC Business Recovery & Insolvency were appointed joint administrators of Bradford Bulls Northern Limited. They were asked to consent to the appointment just over an hour beforehand.
Bradford Bulls are former World club champions and Super League champions but over the past four years have crashed into a depth of financial difficulties. Faced with a winding up petition presented by HM Revenue & Customs it was administration or just 18 minutes after the administration appointment the club were due to be wound up.
The administration appointment was made by the holder of a floating charge that secured personal lending. Once appointed the administrators expressed some concern the loan agreement may be flawed in terms of the power to enforce its security and having raised this with their solicitors it was agreed to seek court directions to declare the appointment as valid.
For those not involved with insolvency, if the appointment of an administrator is deemed invalid the adminstrator can be held guilty of trespass. Also, the appointment of administrators is determined not only by the date but the TIME of appointment.
Based upon advice two applications were filed, namely:
- Seeking a declaration that the appointment by the floating charge holder is valid, or failing that;
- The court make an administration order with retrospective effect.
The applications came before Justice Mann in the High Court on Monday 21 November 2016. On considering the applications the judge noted HM Revenue & Customs supported the appointment of Gavin Bates and Gary Pettit and that administration would serve a better purpose for the stakeholders than the alternative of liquidation. The judge also had to consider whether the court had the power to make the appointment retrospective. In not doing so he automatically places the adminsitrators in a position where they were trespassers for the previous week.
After considering the insolvency provisions, the benefits of administration and the support from the largest un-connected (and petitioning) creditor Justice Mann decided the court did have the power to make retropsective orders. Rather than consider the legal arguments over the vailidity of the floating charge security he terminated the original appointment with effect from 14 November (ie the date of the original appointment) and made an administration order including the appointment of Gavin and Gary effectively from 10.13 a.m. on Monday 14 November.