Further Extension of Protection for Business Tenants until March 2022 and changes to the Bankruptcy and Companies Master’s Guidance in Northern Ireland.

The Finance Minister in Northern Ireland has this week extended emergency protection for business tenants having difficulty paying rent on commercial leases as a result of the pandemic.

The special provision in section 83 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 is being extended again, meaning that Northern Ireland businesses which have fallen into rent arears will be protected from eviction until 25 March 2022.  This announcement from the Department of Finance comes just weeks before the previous deadline of 30th September 2021 and has brought Northern Ireland back in line with England and Wales.

In addition, the Bankruptcy & Companies Master issued updated Covid-19 guidance last week, confirming that creditors’ winding up and bankruptcy petitions, which were adjourned between March and June 2020 are now being relisted for hearing from 20th September 2021.

This appears to be a small step towards normal pre-pandemic business in the Bankruptcy Court in Northern Ireland.  However, ongoing restrictions in the presentation of new creditors’ bankruptcy and winding up petitions remain the same with the guidance stating that this is “unlikely to be removed in the short term”.

Should you require any advice in relation to the above, please do not hesitate to contact Caroline Prunty or Ashley Black.