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Business expenses exceptions in Freezing Orders

In Michael Wilson & Partners v Emmott [2019] EWCA 219 the Court of Appeal reviewed the authorities on the question of the ‘Angel Bell’ exception in Freezing Orders. The Angel Bell exception exists to permit a Court to include provision in a Freezing Order to permit business to continue to trade in spite of the operation of the order. The facts of this case involved a very long running and hugely expensive dispute between two solicitors about the collapse of a business venture between them in Kazakhstan – a “shameful waste of time and money” according to Peter Jackson LJ. Emmott had obtained judgment in approximately £3.2m and a post-judgment Freezing Order which included an Angel Bell exception. After MWP failed to satisfy the judgment Sir Jeremy Cooke, on application, removed it. He drew a distinction between pre and post judgment Freezing Orders and described this as “not a case of cant pay but a case of won’t pay”. The Court of Appeal upheld the decision to remove the exception in this case because the judgment debt remained unsatisfied. It considered its previous authorities and whilst shying away from imposing any point of principle it supported prior dicta that said “it will sometimes and perhaps usually be inappropriate to include the exception in a post-judgment Mareva injunction”. Such exception remains appropriate in a pre-judgment scenario where a claim is defended but in circumstances where a judgment remain unsatisfied businesses can expect that satisfaction of judgment debts should outweigh the expectation to continue to trade in most instances.


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Articles are intended as an introduction to the topic and do not constitute legal advice.