Misfeasance - winding up, Business Law and Ethics


Under s.324, misfeasance proceedings may be instituted against a director, promoter, manager, liquidator or "officer" (including an auditor) of a company in liquidation either to recover the company's property from him or to claim compensation for the loss to the company caused by his misfeasance.

The most obvious case of misfeasance is where a director or other officer of the company is found to have misappropriated property of the company.  He can be compelled by misfeasance proceedings to return it.  His conduct may also be criminal misappropriation of property for which he can be prosecuted.

The other type of misfeasance case is where the company has suffered loss owing to the incompetence or neglect of a director or other officer.  It is not however easy to establish that there has been breach of a fiduciary duty such that an order should be made (on grounds of misfeasance) for payment of compensation.  For some lesser default the liquidator could bring an action for negligence.

In the context of misfeasance proceedings an auditor is exceptionally an "officer" who can be liable: he is not an "officer" in any other situation since he has no management functions.

A receiver is not an "officer" who can be held liable (if the company later goes into liquidation) for misfeasance.

                                      Case. RE B JOHNSON & JOHNSON CO (BUILDERS) (1955)

Misfeasance proceeds were brought against a receiver on the ground that he had in his management of the company's business taken decisions which were "detrimental from the company's point of view", eg. closing down parts of its business. 


A receiver is a representative of the secured creditors by or for whom he is appointed.  He is not an officer of the company who can be liable for misfeasance. If however a receiver does not act bona fide (ie. honestly) the company might have a claim against him but not misfeasance.

Posted Date: 1/15/2013 5:52:14 AM | Location : United States

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