How to apply for a discretionary grant of bona vacantia where the dissolved company cannot be restored.
The Bona Vacantia division (BVD) of the Government Legal Department deals with applications for discretionary grants from bona vacantia assets.
This discretionary grant policy enables sums of money to be recovered where it is not possible to restore a company to the register.
Only one grant will be made in respect of each dissolved company.
All grants are discretionary. No-one has a right to a grant.
BVD will usually only consider making grants out of money that we have received. Grants will not usually be made of other types of assets themselves, or from the proceeds of sale of other types of assets.
Who can apply
BVD will usually only consider applications for discretionary grants from:
- former shareholders (‘members’) as long as the company was solvent when it was dissolved
- former liquidators
- former administrators
- former company voluntary arrangement (CVA) supervisors
Former directors of the company cannot apply for a discretionary grant unless they were also shareholders of the dissolved company.
When to apply
BVD cannot deal with your application until they have received and banked the funds of the dissolved company from the bank or person holding the funds. If you are not sure whether BVD have the funds, please check with the bank or person holding the funds. BVD will not make enquiries for you.
The circumstances in which a grant may be made where a company cannot be restored
When a company cannot be restored to the Register, the policy is to make grants only where:
- paying the grant would alleviate hardship
- it would otherwise be unreasonable or unconscionable for the Crown to keep the assets
- there is a compelling public interest in making the grant
Each case will be decided on its facts. Your application must provide evidence to demonstrate that one or more of the criteria apply. A high standard of evidence is required to support your application. This is because you will be asking BVD to pay funds away from the Exchequer which would otherwise benefit the country as a whole. Therefore your own private interests will in most cases be unlikely to override the strong public interest in the taxpayer retaining funds that legally belong to it.
The fact that the funds have become bona vacantia without you or your advisers understanding the operation of the law is not grounds for a grant. Nor is ignorance of an asset belonging to the company.
Please make sure you include all the evidence you want BVD to consider in your application before you send it as usually a decision will be based only on what you provide on applying and it will be assumed you have set out all of the relevant facts. BVD’s role is not to guide you towards a successful grant application as they represent the interests of the Crown.
What it will cost
If BVD make a discretionary grant, you will have to pay the BVD’s proper legal costs and disbursements for dealing with your application. These costs are usually £300. Costs and disbursements will always be deducted from any grant that is made, so if they hold less than £300, a grant cannot be made.
For grants over £750, BVD also keep 5% of the value of the grant after deducting costs. This is called a reservation. This is kept in case, in the future, the Treasury Solicitor has to pay creditors of the company money paid out as part of the discretionary grant.
The Treasury may require BVD to keep some of the amount held as the “Crown’s Share”.
Apply for a discretionary grant
Please check with your bank that BVD have the money or funds that you think they have. BVD will not process your application until they have received and banked the funds.
Complete a form DG3
Please send the form to:
Bona Vacantia - Cash Balance
Government Legal Department
PO Box 70165
Switchboard 020 7210 4700
In the case of a dissolved charity/non-profit making organisation, BVD usually only pay a grant to another charity/non-profit making organisation with similar objectives to the dissolved charity/organisation. You will need to tell BVD which charity you would like the grant paid to.
Before making a grant, BVD will check that the recipient charity are legally able to receive the grant, and that the grant complies with the dissolved charity’s constitution.
You must also provide written confirmation from the Charity Commission for England and Wales that they have no objection to the discretionary grant being paid to the intended recipient.
All Statutory Declarations must be signed in the presence of a practicing solicitor or a commissioner of oaths.
Proof of identity
BVD need to see proof of identity and of address for each of the applicants in all cases. Do not send original documents to this office unless specifically asked to do so.
If one of the applicants is a company, proof of identity will be required for that company.
Please see the guide on proof of identity to find out what documents BVD accept.
If you live in the UK
Please send original documents certified as true copies by
- a practising solicitor
- the U.K. Post Office ID Checking Service (in which case, please also include the completed ID Checking Service form which has been stamped by the Post Office)
If you provide certified copies, the person certifying the documents must sign and date them, and must state their full name, business name and business address, and their status.
If you live outside the UK
Where the applicant lives outside England and Wales documentation must be certified by a Notary Public registered in their country of residence and an Apostille certificate provided for each document.
BVD will not advise you on how to do this and you should take your own professional advice if you are unsure what to do.
No other certification of documents will be accepted.
You will also need to provide BVD with an office copy of the grant of Probate or Letters of Administration in respect of any deceased member (if appropriate).