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Irish courts' jurisdiction to appoint examiners to foreign companies clarified

The High Court (Mr Justice Quinn) has in the case of Mac Interiors Limited [2023] IEHC 395 appointed an examiner by way of the direct appointment procedure to a company incorporated outside of the area to which the European Insolvency Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2015/848) (the “EIR”) applies. This is the first time the procedure has been used by the Irish courts in such circumstances. 

Under the EIR, the courts of any EU member state to which the EIR applies (namely all EU member states apart from Denmark) may commence insolvency proceedings, including examinership, in relation to any company whose centre of main interests is in that EU member state. 

Although Mac Interiors Limited was incorporated in Northern Ireland, to which the EIR no longer applies, having found that the company had its centre of main interests in the State, the High Court concluded it had jurisdiction under the EIR to both open insolvency proceedings and appoint an examiner. 

Although the decision accords with that of the High Court of England and Wales in BRAC Rent-a-Car International [2003] EWHC 128 (which pre-dates Brexit and therefore the dis-application of the EIR to the UK), doubt had previously been cast over the Irish courts’ jurisdiction to make an order appointing an examiner to a foreign registered company other than by way of the “related company” procedure. That procedure, which allows for an examiner to be appointed to a company related to a company to which an examiner has already been appointed, applies to any related company that the High Court has jurisdiction to wind up and has long applied to foreign registered companies with a sufficient connection to Ireland.

The decision in Mac Interiors Limited confirms that the Irish High Court has jurisdiction to appoint an examiner where the centre of main interests of the company is in the State, even if the company is registered outside of the State, and without the need to rely on an extension of an existing examinership appointment under the "related company" procedure. 

If you would like to discuss this in more detail please contact Commercial Litigation Partners, Tony O'Grady, Julie Murphy-O'Connor, Brendan Colgan or Kevin Gahan or your usual contact at Matheson.