Any property, cash and other asset owned by a company when it is dissolved automatically passes to the Crown as ownerless property. This process is known as ‘bona vacantia’ which literally means vacant goods. The bodies that deal with bona vacantia claims vary across the United Kingdom, but they all ultimately represent the Crown.
There are a number of scenarios where you may be able to claim or buy an asset belonging to a dissolved company by asking the relevant body representing the Crown. This is known as ‘referring’ an asset.
Anybody can refer an asset, for example if:
- you’re the leaseholder of a property where the company owned the freehold
- you want to buy or are affected by land owned by the company
- you want to buy other assets of the company like shares, trade marks or copyrights
- you’re a shareholder trying to get cash held by the company