Joseph Curl specialises in commercial Chancery, with the emphasis on insolvency. He also practises in the areas of banking and financial services, civil fraud, mortgages and real property.
Joseph was one of nine finalists (five of them silks) in the category “Insolvency Barrister of the Year” at the Turnaround, Restructuring & Insolvency Awards 2016 where he was “Highly Commended”.
He is ranked as a leading junior in both the major legal directories.
Chambers UK Bar 2017 says:
“He’s clever, commercial and reliable.”
Legal 500 2016 says that he is:
“A superb advocate, who is very knowledgeable on the law and adept at thinking on his feet”
Chambers UK Bar 2016 says:
“A highly regarded junior who acts on behalf of sizeable lenders and pre-eminent insolvency practitioners in insolvency litigation.
Strengths: ‘He is excellent in court, particularly when required to think on his feet and his written submissions are also first class. He is also instinctively able to see the commercial implications of every twist and turn in a piece of litigation.’”
Legal 500 2015 described him as:
“…very responsive, easy to work with, and a tenacious litigator.”
Chambers UK 2015 notes he has:
“…developed a strong reputation as a technically adept and client-friendly junior…a good all-rounder, who provides excellent advice and presents very well on his feet…
Expertise: ‘He provides advice in an extremely unstuffy manner, and has extremely good insolvency expertise.’ ‘He is clever, commercial and reliable.’”
Chambers UK 2014 described him as:
“A busy junior with a growing reputation in the restructuring and insolvency market. Praised for his technical acumen, he regularly acts for lenders and insolvency practitioners.
Expertise: ‘Has a highly collaborative approach to his work; he is flexible, responsive and a pleasure to work with.’ ‘He has a fantastic legal brain, and displays excellent attention to detail and sound judgment.'”
Chambers UK Bar Guide 2013 stated:
“The ‘incredibly user-friendly’ Joseph Curl… a corporate and individual insolvency specialist who is described as ‘good news – he has buckets of enthusiasm, is quick with his paperwork and effective in all he does.'”
Chambers UK Bar Guide 2012 stated:
“Joseph Curl ‘is calm under pressure and has an excellent eye for detail.’ He is ‘able to understand complex issues with little effort and spots the commercial angle quickly.'”
Chambers UK Bar Guide 2011 commented that he:
“is commended for his ‘technical excellence’. He is ‘very thorough and quick to respond.'”
Between 2001 and 2007, Joseph worked full-time in the insolvency department of DLA Piper UK LLP.
Recent reported cases
In re Cooke (a bankrupt)
 EWHC 1888 (Ch),  Bus LR 960,  Costs LR 781
The only reported case on the costs of an unsuccessful appeal against a bankruptcy order. Joseph successfully showed that such costs may take effect as a post-bankruptcy debt.
Re Cre8atsea Limited (in liquidation)
 EWHC 2522 (Ch),  All ER (D) 149 (Oct)
Joseph represented the successful petitioner in resisting an application to rescind a winding-up order.
Re D’Eye (a bankrupt)
 BPIR 883,  All ER (D) 66 (May)
Trial against six associates of a bankrupt. Joseph represented the trustees in bankruptcy, whose claims to recover the remoter proceeds of void post-petition payments succeeded in full.
Re Longmeade Ltd (in liquidation)
 EWHC 356 (Ch),  Bus LR 506,  BPIR 666,  All ER (D) 259 (Feb) View decision
Joseph represented the liquidator of a Lehman entity in a claim against the Official Receiver. Snowden J ruled that liquidators may discount the views of creditors who are influenced by extraneous considerations.
Cooke v Dunbar Assets plc
 EWHC 579 (Ch),  BPIR 576,  All ER (D) 49 (Apr)
Appeal from a bankruptcy order on the basis that an offer to compound had been unreasonably refused. Joseph represented the successful petitioner both at first instance and on appeal.
Baker and another v LSREF III Wight Ltd
 BPIR 509,  All ER (D) 254 (Feb)
Application establishing that a triable issue arose in respect of an allegation that a bank had rendered itself a fiduciary for its borrowers.
Rowbury v Official Receiver
 EWHC 2276 (Ch),  BPIR 477,  BPIR 500,  All ER (D) 129 (Sep)
Examined when failure to adjourn a creditors’ meeting to consider an individual voluntary arrangement will be a material irregularity. Joseph represented the successful dissentient creditors.
Harvey v Dunbar Assets plc (No.2)
 EWHC 3355 (Ch),  Bus LR 1383,  All ER (D) 02 (Dec) View decision
A debtor was estopped from challenging a statutory demand using an argument that had failed in earlier proceedings on a different statutory demand for the same debt. Joseph represented the successful lender.
Ridsdale v Bowles
 BPIR 1275
A bankrupt applied for annulment, alleging that the petition was abusive because a third party had paid the petitioner to procure the bankruptcy. Joseph represented the trustees in bankruptcy.
Dunbar Assets plc v Butler
 EWHC 2546 (Ch),  BPIR 1358,  All ER (D) 138 (Sep)
Joseph represented the successful appellant lender. It was held that a triable issue of fact is insufficient to set aside a statutory demand: the issue must also disclose a defence.
Sands v Singh and others
 EWHC 2219 (Ch),  BPIR 1293,  All ER (D) 304 (Jun) View decision
Addressed the effect of section 283A of the Insolvency Act 1986 (the “use it or lose it provision”) where an application was not issued within the three year time limit.
Stella v Harris
 EWHC 4492 (Ch),  BPIR 926
Considered whether to grant permission to continue proceedings despite the existence of an interim order to facilitate an IVA proposal.
Ace Paper Ltd v Fry and others EWHC 1647 (Ch),  All ER (D) 192 (Jul) View decision
Joseph represented the successful asset-based lender both at first instance and on appeal. The court concluded that a contested book debt remained the property of Joseph’s client by applying “business common sense” to the contract.
Re Mark Irwin Forstater
 BPIR 21
A proposal for an individual voluntary arrangement was deemed rejected where the creditors’ meeting was improperly suspended. Joseph represented the successful petitioning creditor.
Relfo Ltd (in liquidation) v Varsani
 EWCA Civ 360,  1 BCLC 14 View decision
Joseph (led by Peter Shaw) represented the successful respondent to this appeal concerning laundering, tracing, knowing receipt and unjust enrichment. Arden LJ held that money substitutions may be traced in equity even where they do not occur in chronological order.
Hellard and Wade (trustees of Mireskandari) v (1) Chadwick (trustee of Tehrani) (2) Jami Tehrani
 BPIR 163 (first instance)
 EWHC 2158 (Ch),  BPIR 1234 (appeal)
Trustees in bankruptcy commenced transaction at undervalue proceedings against another bankruptcy estate. Joseph successfully persuaded the court at first instance and on appeal that the claim constituted a debt provable in the respondent estate and should be stayed.
Bramston v Riaz
 BPIR 42
A rare reported use of s.342(1)(b) of the Insolvency Act 1986. The court declared that assets represented “the application” of a transaction at an undervalue and ordered that they be vested in a trustee in bankruptcy without further order. Joseph represented the successful trustee.
Credit Lucky Ltd v National Crime Agency
 EWHC 83 (Ch),  All ER (D) 235 (Jan) View decision
The director of a money transfer company believed to have been used by organised criminals to launder the proceeds of crime to China applied to rescind a winding up order. Barling J dismissed the application. Joseph represented the company’s liquidator.
Re Harvest Finance Limited (in liquidation)
 BPIR 1020
Detailed consideration of the jurisdiction to order disclosure against a company’s former solicitors under sections 234 and 236 of the Insolvency Act 1986 in circumstances where a strong prima facie case of fraudulent conduct is established. Joseph represented the successful liquidators.
Hellard v Kapoor
 EWHC 2204 (Ch),  EWHC 2496 (Ch),  BPIR 745 View decision
Joseph represented the successful trustee in bankruptcy in this fiercely contested application to suspend discharge, which raised complex issues concerning purported family trusts. Indemnity costs were awarded to Joseph’s client.
Arif v Anwar
 EWHC 624 (Fam),  BPIR 389 View decision
The applicant wife challenged as shams trust arrangements between the husband and his son. Joseph successfully resisted an attempt by the husband and son (each separately represented by leading counsel) to exclude the husband’s trustee in bankruptcy from the proceedings.
Allen and another (joint liquidators of Rhinowheels Ltd) v Cowham
 EWHC 1319 (Ch),  All ER (D) 223 (May)
Freezing injunction in support of director’s misfeasance and transaction at undervalue proceedings. Joseph represented the successful liquidators.
Harvey v Dunbar Assets plc
 EWHC 2890 (Ch),  BPIR 66 (Chancery Division)
 EWCA Civ 952,  BPIR 722 (Court of Appeal)
Joseph (acting as sole counsel) successfully resisted a first appeal to the Chancery Division, where it was held that a personal guarantee could be enforced despite an allegation that a co-guarantor’s signature was forged. Joseph was led by Peter Arden QC on a second appeal to the Court of Appeal.
Dunbar Assets plc v Fowler
 BPIR 46
A personal guarantor opposed a bankruptcy petition and argued that there was no petitionable debt. Joseph represented the successful lender. It is the only reported case on r.6.12(7) of the Insolvency Rules 1986 concerning delay between demand and petition.
Relfo Limited (in liquidation) v Varsani
 EWCA Civ 560,  1 WLR 1402,  3 All ER 1045,  1 BCLC 71 View decision
The leading authority on the meaning of “usual or last known residence” for the purposes of service. Joseph was led by Guy Newey QC (now Mr Justice Newey) at first instance ( EWHC 2297 (Ch),  All ER (D) 30 (Oct)) and by Peter Shaw in the Court of Appeal.
R (Coke-Wallis) v Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales
 UKSC 1,  2 AC 146,  2 WLR 103,  2 All ER 1 View decision
Joseph addressed oral argument to the Supreme Court (reported at  2 AC 146, 149B-E, 150E-F) on each of the points on which the appeal was allowed, opposed by Michael Beloff QC for the respondent. The Supreme Court unanimously held that fresh disciplinary proceedings were res judicata and allowed Joseph’s client’s appeal.
(1) Haig (2) Shires (3) Lewis (4) Platinum Developers Ltd (in administration) v Beasant
Application by receivers for a declaration that a director had no beneficial interest in a lease granted prior to a company’s insolvent administration. Joseph acted for the successful administrators.
Hooper (trustee in bankruptcy of Chowdhary) v Duncan Lewis (Solicitors) Limited
 BPIR 591
Trustee in bankruptcy’s application for disclosure against third parties. Addressed legal professional privilege and third party disclosure under the insolvency regime.
Parkinson Engineering Services PLC (in liquidation) v Swan
 EWCA Civ 1366,  Bus LR 857,  BPIR 437,  1 BCLC 163 View decision
Court of Appeal decision (led by Peter Shaw) concerning amendment of a negligence claim against administrators after expiry of limitation.
New v Gromore Limited
 EWHC 2807 (Ch),  1 P & CR D50,  All ER (D) 81 (Nov) View decision
Trespass to land and wrongful interference claim arising from the unauthorised demolition of a sculptor’s premises containing valuable works of art.
Penfold v Fuller
 EWHC 1195 (Ch),  All ER (D) 312 (Oct) View decision
Determined the correct interpretation of “the claimant” for the purposes of the Civil Proceedings Fees Order 2008 and CPR rule 3.7.
Tackling Laundering: the implications of Relfo Limited (in liquidation) v Varsani
International Corporate Rescue 2015, 12(3), 156-161
TOUSA: Reckless Restructuring
Corporate Rescue and Insolvency 2013, 6(1), 15
Bankrupting personal guarantors: recent developments
Insolvency Intelligence 2012, 25(2), 17-22
Challenging the trustee’s remuneration: a new right for bankrupts?
Insolvency Intelligence 2011, 24(1), 5-10
The Spouse v the Creditors: A Turn Against Creditors?
Insolvency Intelligence 2010, 23(6), 81-87
“Use it or lose it”: section 283A after Lewis v Metropolitan
Insolvency Intelligence 2010, 23(5), 74-76
A purposive approach to the rule against foreign revenue enforcement
International Corporate Rescue 2010, 7(2), 137-139
Who can apply to rescind a winding-up order?
Insolvency Intelligence 2009, 22(10), 145-147
Chancery Bar Association
Insolvency Lawyers Association
Proceeds of Crime Lawyers Association
LLB (1st Class Honours) (London) – Law – 2006
BA (1st Class Honours) (London) – Politics, Philosophy & History – 2003
Scholarships and Prizes
Wolfson Pupillage Scholarship – Lincoln’s Inn 2007
Lord Denning Major Scholarship – Lincoln’s Inn 2006
Hardwicke Entrance Scholarship – Lincoln’s Inn 2005
Cavendish Prize for Best Law Degree – Birkbeck, University of London 2006
Helena Kennedy Prize for Best Dissertation – Birkbeck, University of London 2006
Wildy’s Bookshop Prize for Tort – Birkbeck, University of London 2005
Pearson Publication Prize for Contract – Birkbeck, University of London 2004
Ede & Ravenscroft Prize – Birkbeck, University of London 2002
Joseph Curl is an independent self-employed barrister registered with the Bar Standards Board of England (ref. no 51595); whose practice is governed by the Code of Conduct of the Bar of England and Wales which code can be found at www.barstandardsboard.org.uk; has full professional liability insurance provided by the Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund Limited (ref BM 2930/056) (details of the world-wide cover are provided at www.barmutual.co.uk); is registered for VAT (reg. no. 938 9512 78); and can be contacted during chambers opening hours by telephone at 02074045055 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.