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What is Bona Vacantia?

Bona Vacantia is a Treasury Solicitor’s department that manages unclaimed estates. This includes not only the estates of individuals who die without any heirs, but also the residual assets of limited companies that are liquidated or otherwise wound up.

Many small company directors may not know that if they apply to strike off their company from the Companies House active list, any assets still owned by the company when the removal process is completed will be claimed by this department.

This often happens if directors forget to close bank accounts for the company, or transfer other assets out of the company before it is struck off.
Assets may include, but are not limited to:

• land and interests in land in England and Wales
• bank accounts
• other forms of cash (such as insurance policies, tax refunds or sums paid into court)
• copyrights
• trademarks
• patents and other intellectual property
• the benefit of mortgages where sums are owed to a dissolved company
• the benefit of other assets or agreements that the company entered into

Incredibly, if you make a genuine mistake, and forget to transfer an asset before winding up a company, there is no guarantee you can get it back. The Bona Vacantia department say:

“It is the responsibility of the directors and shareholders to deal with the property and assets of a company before it is dissolved. Bona vacantia can be avoided by ensuring assets or property are transferred or dealt with before a company is dissolved.

You should ensure this happens as the role of the Treasury Solicitor is not to correct mistakes or negligence.

If you are a former member, shareholder or liquidator of a company and you want to get an asset back from the Crown you will need to restore the company or buy it from BVD for open market value.

There is no guarantee that BVD will sell it back to you or at all – they may want to sell it on the open market if that would get better value for the Crown.”