Court Receivers


A court-appointed receiver is a flexible means of enforcing security. Court receivers perform a wide range of functions. A court receiver will only generally be necessary where the mortgagee does not have the power to appoint a receiver under its mortgage or by statute or where the nature of the security requires it.

A receiver appointed by the court is deemed an officer of the court. He or she owes duties to the court. The mortgagor and mortgagee will not be responsible for their wrongful acts. Generally, a court-appointed receiver must give security as the court directs for the performance of his duties. The security may be given by an insurance company. In certain cases, security may be dispensed with.

Inherent Powers

The High Court and Circuit Court have powers to appoint a receiver. Certain of the functions may be exercised by Master and County Registrar.

The courts have an inherent power to appoint a receiver where it is just and convenient to do so. The application to the court may be brought by a mortgagee. Generally, the receiver is appointed in the context of a pending legal action. The appointment of a receiver is often an initial step in the proceedings.

When the assets involve an interest in a business, trade or partnership, the court has jurisdiction to appoint a receiver and manager. A manager may be appointed at the application of a security holder over the goodwill of a business. The appointment is made with a view to the realisation of the security by the sale as a going concern.

Legal Proceedings

Strictly speaking, a receiver is appointed ancillary to a claim such as for sale.  He is appointed for the purpose of getting in, holding and securing funds pending the hearing of the legal action in relation to sale, realisation etc. Generally, the person against whom enforcement is taken must be first served with legal proceedings.

Once the summons is issued, the application for a receiver is by way short notice application/motion to the court.  It is necessary to show the basis and necessity for the appointment of a court receiver. Where urgent or necessary, the application can initially be made without notice to the person affected. This might be done where there is a risk an asset might be deliberately disposed of or dissipated.

Grounds for Appointment I

Generally, the purpose of the appointment of the receiver is to preserve the secured property and assets on behalf of the mortgagee. The two main types of cases where an appointment is made are where the ordinary rights are defective or where it is necessary to preserve the property from some danger which threatens it.

A receiver may be appointed over all kinds of real movable and other assets. This can include future rights, dividends, and receipts from foreign properties. The receiver cannot enforce against a foreign property but orders may be made against persons within the jurisdiction, which are personally binding on them. Where a mortgage security includes a business, the court may appoint a receiver and manager.

A receiver may be appointed where the type of asset is such that it is not possible to take possession and ownership of the assets. This may be the case that the security represents a fund or a right to payments, or right to a share in a partnership or under a trust.

Grounds for Appointment II

The right to appoint a receiver may be exercised in the case of an equitable mortgagee (e.g. loan agreement without a perfected mortgage) or equitable mortgage by deposit where there is no document by deed allowing appointment or other enforcement. This is because there may be no power to appoint a receiver of court because of the lack of a deed containing or implying the power to appoint. These kinds of cases also require a court order for sale as discussed in another chapter.

Another type of case is where the appointment is made to preserve property and ensure its proper management pending litigation. In this category, it is necessary to prove some danger or peril to the asset.

Where there is an alternative legal remedy, the court has discretion not to appoint. An example would be where there is a power to appoint in a mortgage deed. A receiver may be appointed by the court if the principal has become payable, if interest is in arrears or if there is a reason to fear that the secured asset may be in jeopardy.

The existence of a prior legal mortgage does not prevent the appointment of a receiver at the application of a lower ranking mortgagee unless the prior mortgagee is in possession. A receiver appointed on the application of lower ranking mortgagees is appointed without prejudice to the rights of prior mortgagees who are entitled to take possession under their security.

Powers and Duties of Receiver

Under the order of the court, the receiver is entitled to assume control of the assets concerned. The order may be enforced by committal to prison for disobedience. The appointment of a receiver is effectively a mandatory court injunction restraining parties from dealing with the property or asset concerned in a manner inconsistent with that ordered.

In the case of rents, the receiver is entitled to require payment of rents to him. A tenant who pays to a landlord after receipt of the notice is obliged to repay the receiver. The receiver is entitled to all rents unpaid at the date of appointment. Similar principles apply to a receiver over debts and other obligations. The debtor is obliged to pay the receiver and this can be enforced by an order for contempt of court.

An interference with the possession of the receiver is a contempt of court. A person interfering with the receiver’s rights may be liable to be committed, although this would rarely occur. Interference may occur by a third-party purporting to exercise rights against the asset without lawful basis or court authority.

Court Supervision I

The receiver appointed by the court is obliged to collect in the assets and pay all money into court, as the court directs. A court receiver has the power to discharge outgoings such as buildings insurance, rates, rents, taxes, and duties. A receiver appointed at the application of a mortgagee is usually directed to pay the rent and profits according to the order of priorities of the mortgagees.

A receiver appointed by the court without express rights of management generally may not incur expenditure without court sanction.  Its expenditure is incurred, he runs the risk of it being disallowed.

Court approval is required for the grant of a lease. A receiver may generally terminate leases for a period of less than year to year without court leave.

Court Supervision II

A receiver is liable to account for monies which he receives or should have received but for his default or negligence. A receiver is entitled to an indemnity against liabilities properly incurred by him and costs, charges and expenses. This indemnity ranks as a first charge on the assets. The receiver appointed by the court has no right of indemnity personally against the appointing party.

The court will generally allow a receiver such remuneration as it sees fit.  The receiver must submit accounts to court at such intervals as may be directed. The passing of the receiver’s accounts must be certified by the court. Monies are paid into court in accordance with the court officer’s certificate.

The receiver is accountable to court for his actions. The receiver may only be discharged when his functions have been fulfilled. Discharge will be ordered when the appointment is no longer necessary or when all payments have been made.

References and Sources

Irish Texts

Breslin Banking law + Supplement     3rd Ed  2013

Mortgages Law & Practice     Maddox 2nd Ed            2017

NAMA Act 2009: A Reference Guide Raghallaigh, Kennedy, Whelan

Money Laundering & Anti-Terrorist Financing Act 2010

Financial & Emergency Provision Legislation Annotated      2011

Shelley & McGrath     National Asset Management Agency Act Annotated 2011

Dodd & Carroll            Law Relating to NAMA 2012  0

Ashe & Reid    Anti-Money Laundering: Risks, Governance & Compliance             2013

Johnston & Ors           Arthur Cox Banking Law Handbook               2007

Dr Mary Donnelly  The Law of Credit and Security, 2nd Ed, 2015

UK Texts

A Hudson The Law of Finance 2nd Ed (Sweet and Maxwell 2013)

Veil (Ed) European capital markets law (Hart Publishing 2013)

IG MacNeil An Introduction to the Law on Financial Investment 2nd Ed ( Hart Publishing 2012)

E Ferran Principles of Corporate Finance 2nd Ed ( OUP 2014)

Gullifer (ed) Goode and Gullifer on legal problems of credit and security (6th edn Sweet and Maxwell London 2017).

MA Clarke et al (eds) Commercial Law: Text, Cases and Materials (5th edn OUP Oxford 2017)

McKendrick (ed) Goode on commercial law (5th edn Penguin London 2017)

G McCormack Secured credit under English and American law (CUP Cambridge 2004)

L Gullifer and J Payne Corporate Finance (2nd edn Hart Oxford 2015)

D Sheehan The Principles of Personal Property Law (2nd edn Hart Oxford 2017)

Ross Cranston, Emilios Avgouleas, Kristin van Zwieten, Christopher Hare, and Theodor van Sante Principles of Banking Law 3rd Ed 2018

E.P. Ellinger, E. Lomnicka, and C. Hare Ellinger’s Modern Banking Law 5th Ed 2011

Andrew Haynes The Law Relating to International Banking  Bloomsbury Professional 2009

Charles Proctor Mann on the Legal Aspect of Money 7th Ed 2012

Charles Proctor The Law and Practice of International Banking 2nd Ed  2015

Sheelagh McCracken The Banker’s Remedy of Set-Off   2010 Bloomsbury Professional

Louise Gullifer, Jennifer Payne Banking & Financial Law 2018

Hubert Picarda QC The Law Relating to Receivers, Managers and Administrators 4th Ed  2006 5th Ed 2019

Lightman & Moss on the Law of Administrators and Receivers of Companies 6th Ed  Sweet & Maxwell 2017

Timothy N Parsons  Lingard’s Bank Security Documents 6th Ed 20