In a recent judgment delivered by the Supreme Court of New South Wales, the court found in favour of a creditor who sought to remove its liquidator, despite previously failing to do so at a meeting convened pursuant to the Insolvency Practice Schedule (Corporations).


The case involved The Owners – Strata Plan 84741 (Strata Plan) who were the body corporate of a block of flats located in Clovelly. Strata Plan commenced proceedings against Iris Diversified Property Pty Ltd (Iris) and the builder of the apartment complex. The builder was subsequently placed in external administration and the proceedings continued against Iris.  Before judgement was handed down, Iris sold a substantial property which they claimed was unrelated to Strata Plan’s claim against them. They also asserted that the assets they owned were owned in their capacity as trustee.

Following two 2017 judgements, Strata Plan became a creditor of Iris in the total amount of $1 799 937.91. Iris Group Management (IGM) – an entity associated with Iris Diversified – also claimed debts of $207 000. In October 2017, Iris was placed in liquidation and Henry McKenna appointed as liquidator.

Following this, Strata Plan requested that McKenna convene a meeting with the creditors of Iris Diversified, at which they sought to have him replaced by Liam Bailey and Christopher Palmer.

Prior to the meeting, McKenna was advised by his lawyers that he could exercise his casting vote against the resolution, so that it failed to pass. Strata Plan subsequently initiated proceedings after McKenna acted according to his lawyer’s instruction.


In deciding the case, the court was required to determine whether McKenna had power to exercise a casting vote against the resolution of his removal and whether resolution for McKenna’s removal should be ‘treated a passed’ and liquidators appointed.

In seeking a declaration that McKenna had no power to exercise a casting vote against his removal and the appointment of Bailey and Palmer as replacement liquidators, Strata Plan relied on r 75-115 (5) of the Insolvency Practice Rules (Corporations).

These rules provide for circumstances in which a resolution is passed at a meeting of creditors after a poll is demanded. The rules specify that the external administrator may exercise a casting vote in favour of the resolution where:

  • no result is reached by a majority in number and value of creditors voting in favour or against the resolution; and
  • The resolution relates to the removal of an external administrator of a company.

Despite this, they ultimately contended that the rule does not contemplate the external administrator exercising a casting vote against the resolution to remove themselves.

The court held that it was not necessary to determine whether the effect of that rule was to determine whether McKenna had power to exercise a casting vote or if its effect is merely that his vote was to be disregarded.

Ultimately, Black J ordered that Bailey and Palmer be appointed as joint liquidators of Iris, with McKenna ordered to pay costs without recourse to the assets of Iris.

This case signals an important reminder for liquidators tempted to use their casting vote to defeat a resolution calling for their removal. It is also telling for lawyers who are advising clients on how to vote in deadlocked meetings.