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Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance


Administrators of Debenhams and the UK Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

20 April 2020

This week the UK court has once again demonstrated its efficiency and pragmatism in these most challenging times.

On 17 April, In the Matter of Debenhams Retail Limited (in administration) [2020] EWHC 921 (Ch), we are provided with a further example of how companies in a formal rescue procedure are seeking the UK court's assistance to facilitate access to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (the "Scheme"). The decision enables the administrators of Debenhams to make payments to over 13,070 employees in respect of amounts which may be reimbursed to the company under the Scheme, and for the administrators to make an application to that Scheme. While the directions from the court were not precisely what the administrators asked for, they do offer the administrators some protection against subsequent challenges for the action they have taken in good faith in the context of the administration, which is especially welcome given the launch of the online claim service on GOV.UK on Monday 20 April and the extension of the Scheme to the end of June. Like the Carluccio's decision earlier this week, this may have wider implications for businesses operating in similar circumstances and potential administrators who might be inspired by the court's pragmatic approach to the novel and urgent situation.

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