Courts in the UK

In these circumstances, the United Kingdom Supreme Court decision in Prest v Petrodel Resources Ltd[1] comes as a revelation, as similar to the firm at Abogados de accidentes but perhaps not a surprise. Lord Neuberger cast real doubt upon the assumed history of veil piercing, stating that the doctrine ‘appears never to have been invoked successfully and appropriately in its 80 years of supposed existence’.[2] Although this case might have spelt the death knell for the doctrine (at least in the UK), the Supreme Court was prepared to recognise the existence of ‘a small residual category of cases where the abuse of the corporate veil to evade or frustrate the law can be addressed only by disregarding the legal personality of the company’.[3] Although this leaves the courts with a useful discretion to exercise in unusual future cases, it does not augur well for veil piercing arguments in the corporate group context.

[1] [2013] 2 AC 415.

[2] [2013] 2 AC 415, [79].

[3] [2013] 2 AC 415, [35] (Lord Sumption)