Punjab National Bank (International) Limited v Dr Rahul Nanda Case Highlights Importance of Compliance with Debtor Questioning Orders

Citation: [2023] EWHC 3201 (Ch)
Judgment on


In the case of Punjab National Bank (International) Limited v Dr Rahul Nanda [2023] EWHC 3201 (Ch), the court deliberated on compliance with a debtor questioning order (DQO) under the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) 71.2. The judgment addressed the obligations of a judgment debtor, Dr Nanda, to provide information and documents to aid enforcement of a substantial monetary judgment. This article analyzes the legal principles applied and their direct linkage to the adjudication of compliance within the specific context of the case.

Key Facts

Dr Nanda, the judgment debtor, owed Punjab National Bank (International) Limited (PNBL) over £15 million as of the court’s proceedings. His compliance with the DQO, originally issued in November 2021, was under scrutiny. The court considered twenty-three categories of alleged non-compliance, pertaining to the debtor’s provision of information ranging from personal bank accounts to details of directorships and valuable possessions. Dr Nanda’s efforts and engagement in providing the required information were critically evaluated against the backdrop of PNBL’s persistence for enforcement.

The judgment explores various legal principles:

  1. Purpose of Debtor Questioning: The primary aim of CPR 71 is to gather information about a debtor’s means to inform the judgment creditor’s decisions regarding enforcement action (paragraph 10).

  2. Due Process: A judgment debtor’s failure to comply with the DQO may lead to the court referring the case to a High Court Judge under CPR 71.8, who may hold the debtor in contempt and impose sanctions (paragraph 22).

  3. Certification of Non-Compliance: The referring judge or officer is tasked with certifying non-compliance before referral, indicating the specific areas where the debtor failed to meet obligations (paragraph 24).

  4. Judicial Discretion: A subsequent High Court Judge has the discretion to decide on punishment or additional directions for compliance, emphasizing that contempt proceedings are not a primary aim but a means to secure compliance (paragraph 33).

  5. The Binary Approach: In non-compliance certification, the process might be straightforward in cases of clear non-compulsory behavior, but more nuanced in complex cases with disputed facts (paragraph 30).

  6. Procedural Appropriateness: The Court of Appeal in Deutsche Bank AG v Sebastian Holdings Inc & Vik [2018] EWCA Civ 2011 indicated CPR 71 is better suited for straightforward cases, while CPR 81 might be more applicable for complex matters (paragraph 41).

The case also references the guidance provided in Broomleigh Housing Association Ltd v Okonkwo [2010] EWCA Civ 1133, underscoring the seriousness of a suspended committal order and the need for thoughtful judicial discretion.


Master Kaye concluded that Dr Nanda had not complied with the DQO in all twenty-three categories. The analysis of each category detailed instances where Dr Nanda’s efforts fell short or were contrary to available evidence. Consequently, Master Kaye certified non-compliance and made a mandatory referral to a High Court Judge to consider further steps, including potential contempt proceedings and/or further opportunities for compliance.


The judgment in Punjab National Bank (International) Limited v Dr Rahul Nanda eloquently highlights the judiciary’s role in ensuring compliance with court orders deployed to enforce monetary judgments. Through its meticulous examination of the debtor’s conduct against the backdrop of civil procedure norms, the judgment fortifies the legal framework guiding the enforcement of judgments. It underlines the balance between the rigor of compliance and the court’s overarching interest in facilitating information gathering for enforcement purposes. The findings exemplify the binary nature of compliance at this procedural stage and firmly establish that any subsequent punitive measures are avenues to secure compliance rather than end goals. The referral to a High Court Judge opens the path to potential contempt findings or further directives, reinforcing the judiciary’s commitment to upholding the procedural integrity of the debtor questioning mechanism.