Thursday, 31 July 2014

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LOOOSERS mindset; and get up to speed on the mechanism of your UN-ENSLAVEMENT solution!

"A floating charge is a security interest over a fund of changing assets of a company or a limited liability partnership(LLP), which 'floats' or 'hovers' until the point at which it is converted into a fixed charge, at which point the charge attaches to specific assets of the company or LLP. This conversion into a fixed charge (called "crystallisation") can be triggered by a number of events; inter alia, it has become an implied term (under English law) in debentures that a cessation of the company's right to deal with the assets in the ordinary course of business leads to automatic crystallisation. Additionally, according to express terms of a typical loan agreement, default by the chargor is a trigger for crystallisation. Such defaults typically include non-payment, invalidity of any of the lending or security documents or the launch of insolvency proceedings.
Floating charges can only be granted by companies or LLPs. If an individual person or a partnership[1] was to purport to grant a floating charge, it would be void as a general assignment in bankruptcy.[2]
Floating charges take effect in equity only, and consequently are defeated by a bona fide purchaser for value without notice of any asset covered by them. In practice, as the chargor has power to dispose of assets subject to a floating charge, this is only of consequence in relation to disposals that occur after the charge has crystallised.
The floating charge has been described as "one of equity's most brilliant creations."[3]


Although the nature of a floating charge has been widely considered by the courts, historically no full definition has ever been given, and the nature of the chargee's interest in the charged assets (or fund of assets) remains doctrinally uncertain. The earliest descriptions were given by Lord Macnaghten in two cases.
"A floating security is an equitable charge on the assets for the time being of a going concern. It attaches to the subject charged in the varying condition in which it happens to be from time to time. It is the essence of such a charge that it remains dormant until the undertaking ceases to be a going concern, or until the person in whose favour the charge is created intervenes. His right to intervene may of course be suspended by agreement. But if there is no agreement for suspension, he may exercise his right whenever he pleases after default."
Later in Illingworth v Houldsworth [1904] AC 355 at 358 he stated:
"...a floating is ambulatory and shifting in nature, hovering over and so to speak floating with the property which it is intended to affect until some event occurs or some act is done which causes it to settle and fasten on the subject of the charge within its reach and grasp."
A description was subsequently given in Re Yorkshire Woolcombers Association [1903] 2 Ch 284, and despite Romer LJ clearly stating in that case that he did not intend to give a definition of the term floating charge, his description is generally cited as the most authoritative definition of what a floating charge is:
  • it is a charge over a class of assets present and future;
  • that class will be changing from time to time; and
  • until the charge crystallises and attaches to the assets, the chargor may carry on its business in the ordinary way.
When conducting a recent review of the authorities, in keeping with that tradition, in National Westminster bank plc v Spectrum Plus Ltd [2005] UKHL 41, the House of Lords elected instead to describe the essential characteristic of a floating charge rather than define it, and they described it thus:
"the asset subject to the charge is not finally appropriated as a security for the payment of the debt until the occurrence of some future event. In the meantime the chargor is left free to use the charged asset and to remove it from the security."


Because of the lower priority of a floating charge (see below), most security documents that create floating charges also seek to create fixed charges over as many assets of the company as they reasonably can. In relation to certain assets, this has historically given rise to tension as to whether the charge created is actually a fixed charge, or whether (despite being expressed as a fixed charge) it should be recharacterised as a floating charge, with the lower priority that floating charges have. This issue arises most frequently in relation to trade receivables and cash in bank accounts.
In National Westminster bank plc v Spectrum Plus Limited and others [2005] UKHL 41 the House of Lords finally brought some clarity to this area of the law. The essential test of whether a charge was a fixed charge related to the chargor's power to continue to deal with the asset. In order to preserve the status of a charge as a fixed one, the bank must exercise actual control over disposal of the asset. If the chargor is able to deal with the asset, such as by drawing from the account in which charged funds are kept, or into which the proceeds of trade receivables are deposited, then the holder of the charge does not have effective control. The judges held that as this is inconsistent with the status of the charge as fixed (if the chargor company is able to use the proceeds in the ordinary course of its business without the consent of the charge holder), the charge could only take effect as a floating charge.
See also: analysis of the House of Lords decision

Nature of the chargee's interest[edit]

Several authors[4] have suggested that the floating chargee, prior to crystallisation, may have no proprietary interest at all in the charged assets. However, this is inconsistent with cases (such as Spectrum) at the highest level which suggest a proprietary interest does exist.
Alternatively, the floating chargee may have an inchoate type of proprietary interest, with characteristics that are proprietary but of a lesser order than the proprietary interest of a chargee with a fixed charge. Some authors have suggested that there is an interest in a fund of assets,[5] but the nature and incidents of the interest remain unclear. This has received some judicial support, from Lord Walker in Spectrum, for example.
Another possibility is that the holder of a floating charge may have the same quality of proprietary interest as a fixed chargee, but one that is subject to defeasance[6] or overreaching[7] by permitted dealings by the chargor with the charged assets."   Continues.

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