Please read our introduction to Bona Vacantia and Escheat before proceeding.
A company is dissolved after a formal liquidation by its members or creditors or because the Registrar of Companies has struck it off for failure to comply with its legal obligations.
Assets still owned by the company at its dissolution pass to the Crown as bona vacantia except for assets that are held on trust by the company for another. Where property is held on trust an application for a vesting order will need to be made to the Court. Papers will need to be served on the appropriate Attorney General and you should contact us for details of the relevant Duchy’s requirements and procedures for dealing with a vesting order application.
Does the Duchy of Lancaster or the Duchy of Cornwall have jurisdiction over the assets of a dissolved company?
If the dissolved company’s last registered office was in the County Palatine (largely Lancashire and parts of Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Cheshire and Cumbria) the Duchy of Lancaster has jurisdiction over its assets.
If the dissolved company’s last registered office was in the County of Cornwall (the county boundary with Devon follows the River Tamar and the county includes the Isles of Scilly) the Duchy of Cornwall has jurisdiction over its assets.
To find out whether the Duchy of Lancaster or the Duchy of Cornwall may have authority over the dissolved company you are interested in search for the postcode of the relevant address using the buttons below.
If they do not, contact the Treasury Solicitor who represents the Crown in bona vacantia matters for the majority of England and Wales. The Duchies’ procedures for the administration of bona vacantia are very similar to those of the Treasury Solicitor.
If they do have jurisdiction, progress your enquiry below:
A company may be capable of restoration (coming back to life) if the company has been dissolved for six years or less. Companies dissolved for more than six years are capable of restoration in limited circumstances only and you should seek specialist advice if you believe one of the circumstances might be relevant to you.
On restoration, the assets are owned by the company once more and if funds have been received for the dissolved company they will be returned to the active company on the provision of requisite paperwork.
If you are a former director/shareholder and do not restore the company but wish to retrieve an asset, you will need to apply to buy it back for open market value. The Duchies will decide how to dispose of, or may disclaim (give up), an asset without reference to an enquirer and in the most cost-effective manner. They may contact shareholders/directors to see if they want to restore the company. They may sell an asset through a public auction.
The Duchy of Lancaster and the Duchy of Cornwall can only consider restoration enquiries for dissolved companies if they have geographical jurisdiction over them as a result of the location of the last registered office of the company. Use our postcode search if you have not used it yet.
The Duchies are not responsible for any liabilities or debts of a dissolved company and do not manage any assets.
Please note we do not advise on restoration applications to Companies House or the Court and we cannot assist with paperwork. We can only provide waiver letters (see below), if requirements are met, to assist with your application.