Bishopsgate Investment Management Ltd v Maxwell (No 2)
|Bishopsgate Investment Management Ltd v Maxwell (No 2)|
|Court||Court of Appeal|
|Citation(s)|| BCLC 814|
|Judge(s) sitting||Hoffmann LJ, Ralph Gibson LJ, Leggatt LJ|
|Fiduciary duty, proper purpose|
Bishopsgate Investment Management Ltd v Maxwell (No 2)  BCLC 814 is a UK company law case concerning a director's duty to act for proper purposes of the company. This case is an example of what would now be Companies Act 2006, section 171.
Robert Maxwell, who controlled Maxwell Group plc and bought the Daily Mirror in 1984, fell off his yacht in the Canary Islands on 5 November 1991. It transpired he had used the company pension funds to fund his own lifestyle. Ian Maxwell was Robert’s son and a director of Bishopsgate Investment Management Ltd, which was meant to be safeguarding the company pension plans. He had signed share transfers from Bishopsgate to Maxwell Group plc for no consideration. The shares had been held on trust for a number of pension schemes. The liquidators of Bishopsgate sued Ian Maxwell to compensate for the value of the shares, on the basis that it was an improper use of the company's property.
|“||In the older cases the duty of a director to participate in the management of a company is stated in very undemanding terms. The law may be evolving in response to changes in public attitudes to corporate governance, as show by the enactment of the provisions consolidated in the CDDA 1986. Even so, the existence of a duty to participate must depend upon how the particular company’s business is organised and the part which the director could reasonably have been expected to play… Mr Ian Maxwell was in breach of his fiduciary duty because he gave away the company’s assets for no consideration… In the case of breach of the fiduciary duty, it seems to me that the cause of action is constituted not by failure to make inquiries but simply by the improper transfer of the shares…||”|
- Macmillan Inc v Bishopsgate Investment Trust plc (No 3)  WLR 387
- This would now fall under CA 2006 s 171.