2017-10-doc6 Polak-Pannevis, Insolventierecht, 14e druk, 2017

De laatste 20 jaar verscheen van het boek Polak/Pannevis, Insolventierecht, om de 3 jaar een nieuwe druk. In september 2017 verscheen de 14e druk van het boek dat tot 2011 de titel ‘Faillissementsrecht’ had. Voorwaar een prestatie van formaat. De titel van het boek is wel, maar de opzet is niet gewijzigd. Dus wordt de gehele stof aan de hand van de Faillissementswet beschreven, en waar nodig wordt aanverwante wet- of regelgeving besproken, met veel aandacht voor rechtspraak van de Hoge Raad, maar ook lagere rechtspraak komt aan bod. Dit alles is verwerkt tot 1 mei 2017; een enkele actualiteit van daarna is nog verwerkt. Het accent ligt in het boek op het materiële insolventierecht. Aandacht is er zodoende voor alle belangrijke onderwerpen, van afkoelingsperiode, boedel, bestuurdersaansprakelijkheid, curator tot verrekening, verificatie, vereffening en wederkerige overeenkomsten. Ook wordt in enkele bladzijden de herschikte EU Insolventieverordening besproken. De bewerker geeft aan dat stapje voor stapje het insolventierecht wordt herschreven. Hij bespreekt onder meer de onlangs aangepaste onderdelen van de wet, zoals het civielrechtelijk bestuursverbod en de informatie- en meldings- dan wel aangifteplicht omtrent onregelmatigheden rond het faillissement.
Het boek kenmerkt zich door een systematisch samenvatting van wet en rechtspraak, die als toelichting daarop dient. Het heeft een gidsfunctie voor hen die zich binnen de studie of voor een beroep het insolventierecht eigen moeten maken. Het bevat uitvoerige registers op wetsartikelen, rechtspraak en trefwoorden, een voorbeeld van een uitdelingslijst en een lijst van afkortingen (waarin verrassenderwijs als afkorting voor mijn naam wordt gebruikt: BWS).
Het boek vormt een deugdelijke introductie tot het insolventierecht, maar een ‘inleiding’ is het, met ruim 500 bladzijden, niet. Dat maakt het weinig geschikt voor educatieve doeleinden. Het is een gedetailleerd naslagwerk, dat vaak wordt aangehaald, in de vakliteratuur en in conclusies genomen door het parket bij de Hoge Raad, hoewel het boek een kritische bespreking van de rechtspraak van de Hoge Raad, discussie met verschenen literatuur en beschouwend commentaar op wetgeving mist. Een voorbeeld. Naast de vanouds bestaande taak van beheer en vereffening van de boedel (art. 68 lid 1 Fw) van de curator heeft de ‘wet versterking positie curator’ per 1 juli 2017 geleid tot een op haar/hem rustende informatie- en meldings- dan wel aangifteplicht van (kortweg) faillissementsfraude (art. 68 lid 2 Fw). Een evaluatie van deze verplichting binnen de algemene taak van de curator, van de doelen die met deze nieuwe verplichting worden gediend (‘poortwachtersfunctie’) en de inherente spanning met het algemene crediteurenbelang dat met een faillissement centraal staat ontbreekt. Dat is jammer omdat daarom het boek daarom als leerboek voor universiteiten weinig geschikt is. Voor de rechtspraktijk dient het als beredeneerd compendium van wetgeving en rechtspraak. Voor het assisteren bij het oplossen van uitdagende, complexe vraagstukken is het boek door het gemis van verwerking van literatuur en commentaar niet goed bruikbaar. Het is spijtig dat de auteur, die vele jaren ervaring in het vakgebied heeft, niet de gelegenheid te baat heeft genomen om niet alleen de titel van het boek, maar ook de opzet van het boek te wijzigen en zijn eigen stempel te zetten.
N.J. Polak, Insolventierecht, bewerkt door M. Pannevis, 14e druk, Deventer: Wolters Kluwer 2017. Nadere informatie via https://www.wolterskluwer.nl/shop/boek/insolventierecht/NPINSOREC/

 

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2017-10-doc5 Regeerakkoord 2017-2021 over aanpak schulden

In het regeerakkoord 2017-2021 staat onder de kop ‘Zekerheid en kansen in een nieuwe economie’ op p. 27 een hoofdstuk, getiteld ‘Terugdringen van schulden en armoede’. De passages luiden als volgt (nummering heb ik erbij gezet):
“Eén op de tien huishoudens heeft problematische schulden. Daarnaast loopt een grote groep het risico om problematische schulden te krijgen. Het kabinet wil het aantal mensen met problematische schulden terug dringen en mensen met schulden effectiever te helpen.
1 Schuldhulpverlening is en blijft een gemeentelijke verantwoordelijkheid. Via programmatische afspraken wenst het kabinet met gemeenten tot een vernieuwende schuldenaanpak en een verbeterd schuldhulpverleningstraject te komen. Hierbij kunnen de volgende thema’s aan bod komen:
1.1 Verbeteren van de (toegang tot) schuldhulpverlening, met kortere wachttijden.
1.2 Beter samenwerken met andere partijen om onnodig oplopen van schulden te voorkomen.
1.3 Voorkomen van uithuisplaatsingen, zeker als daar kinderen bij betrokken zijn.
1.4 Ruimte geven aan gemeenten om op lokaal niveau met vernieuwende aanpakken en maatwerk te experimenteren.

2 De overheid heeft als schuldeiser een bijzondere verantwoordelijkheid om onnodige vergroting van schulden te voorkomen. De overheid dient de beslagvrije voet te respecteren. Om escalatie van schulden te voorkomen, wordt meer ingezet op direct contact met schuldenaren. De stapeling van boetes vanwege
te laat betalen en bestuursrechtelijke premies wordt gemaximeerd. Mogelijkheden voor betalingsregelingen worden uitgebreid.

3 Bij incasso worden misstanden effectiever bestreden. De maximale incassokosten die in rekening mogen worden gebracht, worden gehandhaafd en er wordt bezien of het minimumbedrag omlaag kan. Er komt een incassoregister waarin incassobureaus worden opgenomen, die voldoen aan eisen met betrekking tot oprichting, bedrijfsvoering en opleiding. Indien een incassobureau te vaak de fout ingaat, wordt het beboet en verliest het de registratie.

4 Excessen in kredietverlening zullen worden tegengegaan, net als verdienmodellen waarbij hoge rentes mensen in de problemen brengen en de kosten van wanbetaling op de samenleving worden afgewenteld.

5 De juridische afhandeling van schulden wordt verbeterd. Schuldeisers dienen eerst de mogelijkheden van een betalingsregeling te onderzoeken voor een zaak voor de rechter wordt gebracht. Er komt een experiment met een schuldenrechter, die alle zaken van een schuldenaar geconcentreerd behandelt.
Gemeenten krijgen een adviesrecht in de gerechtelijke procedure rondom schuldenbewind.

6 Met gemeenten en erkende vrijwilligersorganisaties wordt gewerkt aan een landelijk dekkend netwerk van vrijwilligersprojecten gericht op schuldhulp en financiële begeleiding.

7 Het kabinet zal extra middelen beschikbaar stellen voor het voorkomen van schulden en de bestrijding van armoede – in het bijzonder onder kinderen.”
Zie https://www.tweedekamer.nl/sites/default/files/atoms/files/regeerakkoord20172021.pdf.

De punten 1 en 2 kunnen in theorie alleen maar worden onderschreven, hoewel uiteraard veel van de uiteindelijke vormgeving van deze ‘programmatisch afspraken’ afhangt. Punt 1.3 kan aanleiding zijn art. 287 lid 4 Fw (voorlopige voorziening hangende het schuldsaneringsverzoek) aan te passen. Punt 2 noopt ertoe goed te onderscheiden tussen de overheid als organisatie die het algemeen belang dient, en de overheid als crediteur. Ik begrijp dat het inherente conflict of interest beter onder ogen wordt gezien. Punt 3 kondigt een professionaliseringsslag bij incassobureaus aan, met een ‘incassoregister’. Dat is een gekke benaming, beter lijkt Wet op de Incassobureaus, want ik neem toch aan dat bij wet geregeld gaat worden wie de registratie uitvoert, welke criteria daarvoor worden aangelegd, wie de ‘erkenning’ regelt, met een regeling van boete’s en deregistratie die waarborgen voor een zorgvuldige procedure bevat, voordat een kantoor diens registratie wordt ontnomen. Punt 4 is vaag. Punt 5 kan leiden tot een – in de literatuur wel besproken – in de wet op te nemen verbijzondering van een redelijkheid en billijkheidsplicht (tussen contractanten) om niet rauwelijks te dagvaarden, maar eerst buiten rechte een vordering trachten te innen. Mogelijk sluit punt 5 hierop aan: de plicht van een schuldeiser om eerst een betalingsregeling te onderzoeken. Een experiment met een ‘schuldenrechter’ wordt aangekondigd. Ook onduidelijk. Is dat een ‘echte’ rechter of een bijzondere rechter (uit de rechtbank?), die ook bemiddelt en als mediator optreedt? Wat zijn ‘alle zaken’ van de schuldenaar? Diens consumptieschulden en ook zijn schulden wegens alimentatie of zijn hypothecaire schulden? Of ook niet-financiële zaken, bijvoorbeeld probleem met een vergunning? Wat is de verhouding met het met ingang van 1 april 2017 in werking getreden Besluit breed moratorium ex art. 5 van de Wet gemeentelijke schuldhulpverlening? En hoe werkt dit alles uit in het Burgerlijke Wetboek, in het Wetboek van Burgerlijke Rechtsvordering en in de Faillissementswet? Genoeg, dacht ik zo, om met aandacht te volgen.

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2017-10-doc4 III Prize competition 2018 now open

The HomeInternational Insolvency Institute has opened its competition ofr the Prize in International Insolvency Studies. The Prize in International Insolvency Studies comprises a Gold Medal Prize for the winning submission as well as a Silver Medal Prize, a Bronze Medal Prize, and several Finalist Prizes. The Prizes are accompanied by an honorarium for the Medal winners. it’s for the 13th time that III awards its yearly prizes for original legal research. Topics can be matters of international insolvency and restructuring significance and on comparative international analysis of domestic insolvency and restructuring issues and developments. The winner’s contribution will be published in Norton Journal of Bankruptcy Law and Practice, s/he will receive a trip to the III’s conference in New York City in September 2018. The winner(s) will meet insolvency experts from around the world and be invited to present their paper. The III Prize is awarded for original legal research, commentary or analysis on topics of international insolvency and restructuring significance and on comparative international analysis of domestic insolvency and restructuring issues and developments. The Prize Competition is open to full and part-time undergraduate and graduate students and to practitioners in practice for nine years or less. Entries must not have been published and must be available to be posted on the International Insolvency Institute website at www.iiiglobal.org. Medal-winning entries will be considered for publication in the Norton Journal of Bankruptcy Law and Practice (West) and for inclusion in the Westlaw electronic database. Entries may be of any length but a limit of 20,000 – 30,000 words is preferred. Entries must be received by March 31, 2018.
Entries will be judged by a distinguished panel of leading international insolvency academics and practitioners from some 10 countries. All Medal Winners and Finalists will be invited to attend the Conference and will be provided with complementary Conference registration. Medal Winners will also be nominated to Class VII of the III NextGen Leadership Program which will convene in New York in September, 2018 during the III’s 2018 Conference. For further details and the terms of the III Prize in International Insolvency Studies go to www.iiiglobal.org or contact Franca Tibando, Executive Director of the International Insolvency Institute NextGen Leadership Program, at ++ 1-416-918-7301 or ftibandonextgen@rogers.com.

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2017-10-doc3 Chancery Guide amended

In May this year (see http://leidenlawblog.nl/articles/jin-guidelines-strengthen-court-to-court-cross-border-cooperation) I reported that Sir Geoffrey Vos, Chancellor of the High Court of England and Wales, had approved the adoption of the JIN Guidelines, as part of the court’s Chancery Guide. The Guidelines of the Judicial Insolvency Network (JIN) aim to encourage communication and cooperation amongst national courts by pulling together the best practices in cross-border restructuring and insolvency. In addition to the courts of some eight countries mentioned in that blog, recently courts for Brazil, Argentina and the Supreme Court of New South Wales in Australia have adopted these JIN cross-border cooperation guidelines. In May, in England the adoption led to an unfortunate reference to an earlier version of the American Law Institute/International Insolvency Institute Guidelines Applicable to Court-to-Court Communications in Cross-Border Cases. Recently, this has led to an amendment of the Chancery Guide (see https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/chancery-guide-bpcs-amendments-20171002.pdf), which in the relevant paragraphs now state:

Court-to-Court communications in cross-border insolvency cases

25.30 There is increasing international recognition that communication between courts in different jurisdictions may be of assistance in the efficient conduct of cross-border insolvency cases. Improved communication may lead to a co-ordinated approach between the courts and maximisation of benefit for all stakeholders of financially troubled enterprises.

25.31 There are, at present, three principal sets of guidelines for court-to-court communications which might be adopted, with appropriate modifications, in such cases. These are the American Law Institute/International Insolvency Institute Guidelines Applicable to Court-to-Court Communications in Cross-Border Cases; the EU Cross-Border Insolvency Court-to-Court Communications Guidelines; and The Judicial Insolvency Network Guidelines for Communication and Cooperation between Courts in Cross-Border Insolvency Matters. The ALI/III Guidelines are available at https://www.iiiglobal.org/sites/default/files/ALI–III%20Global%20Principles%20booklet.pdf. The EU Guidelines are available at http://www.tri-leiden.eu/uploads/files/eu-cross-border-insolvency-court-to-court-cooperation-principlespdf.pdf. The JIN Guidelines (with minor amendments for use in England and Wales) are available at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/612376/JIN_Guidelines.pdf.

25.32 In a cross-border insolvency case, the insolvency practitioner involved, together with any other interested parties, should consider, at an early stage in the proceedings, whether the Court should be invited to adopt one of these sets of guidelines for use in the proceedings, with such modifications as the circumstances of the case may require.”

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2017-10-doc2 Bottle of German wine?

Today, October 2, 2107, the management of SSRN’s eLibrary (Social Science Research Network, see www.ssrn.com) writes to me that the paper, “INSTRUMENT OF THE EUROPEAN LAW INSTITUTE – RESCUE OF BUSINESS IN INSOLVENCY LAW”, was recently listed on SSRN’s Top Ten download list for the Corporate Governance & Law eJournal: “As of 02 October 2017, your paper has been downloaded 99 times.” That’s great news, as (1) it’s rather odd to have the paper (a 400 pages report, see https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3032309, as well as http://bobwessels.nl/2017/09/2017-09-doc3-eli-business-rescue-report-published/) listed under ‘corporate governance’, rather than ‘law’, but more importantly that my colleague and co-reporter, professor Stephan Madaus, owes me a bottle of good German wine, as we made a bet for such a bottle if in 3 months after the presentation of our report (which was September 6, so: per December 6, 2017) it would have been downloaded from the ssrn website (mind you, only that website!) 100 or more times. With 99 downloads in less than 4 weeks (none of them was mine, no manipulation on this side!) I am confident a bottle is coming my way! For the real lawyers: which law applies to a cross-border gamble between a German and Dutch professor, only orally concluded in Vienna, Austria, with alcohol as a subject?

Note, the picture is taken by Theun Okkerse, ‘View of Dordrecht seen from Papendracht, The Netherlands’, 2016, used as cover of our (Dutch) book Divers Dordrecht, Verhalen over de stad, see

http://bobwessels.nl/2016/09/2016-09-doc2-dordts-genootschap-diversa-sed-una-200-jaar/DSC01000

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2017-10-doc1 Book Bork on Cross Border Insolvency Law

The core thesis of this book, shortly reviewed here, is that cross-border insolvency rules of all kinds are founded on, and can be traced back to, basic values and that they aim to pursue and enforce such values. The book Principles of Cross-border Insolvency Law is written by professor Reinhard Bork, a very productive scholar of the University of Hamburg. It was written during a Visiting Fellowship at Magdalen College, University of Oxford, and covers cases and literature published before 30 June 2016.
Where many insolvency proceedings have increasingly cross-border effects, which are regulated by many international regulations, Bork tries to find an answer to the question of what the underlying principles of international (cross-border) insolvency laws are and how they can be used for the purpose of further harmonising cross-border insolvency law in the EU and beyond. These rules are e.g. the European Insolvency Regulation (recast) and the UNCITRAL Model Law. He also takes account of available soft law and best practices, such as the American Law Institute (ALI) Principles for the NAFTA States, and the Global Principles for Cooperation in International Insolvency Cases of 2012 and the Global Guidelines for Court-to-Court Communications in International Insolvency Cases of 2012, both written by Ian Fletcher and myself (and recently re-published, see http://bobwessels.nl/2017/09/2017-09-doc1-ali-iii-global-principles-and-guidelines-2012/). Also the EU Cross-Border Insolvency Court-to-Court Cooperation Principles and Guidelines (also known as JudgeCo Principles and Guidelines (see http://www.tri-leiden.eu/project/categories/eu-judgeco-project/), as well as the national laws such as Chapter 15 US Bankruptcy Code or Sch. 1 Cross-Border Insolvency Regulation 2006) form a part of his study.
The matrix for the research comes from the identification, distinguishing and grouping of several principles into three groups: conflict of laws principles (e.g. unity, universality, equality, mutual trust, cooperation and communication, subsidiarity, proportionality), procedural principles (e.g. efficiency, transparency, predictability, procedural justice, priority) and substantive principles (e.g. equal treatment of creditors, optimal realisation of the debtor’s assets, debtor protection, protection of trust (for secured creditors or contractual partners), social protection (for employees or tenants)). Having grouped and identified his vast area of the object of research in jurisdictional, procedural and substantive principles, conflicts of these principles are examined.
Bork’s excellent scholarly treatment will not only be useful for scholars, but will surely help judges building up argumentation and balancing interests when deciding cases, assist practitioners in analysing their position in negotiations or litigation as well as legislators looking for input to law reform or harmonising certain concepts. Especially for PhD students professor Bork’s principle-based approach provides inspiration for evaluating research and may lead to reconsider proposals for shaping and improving cross-border insolvency law.
The innovative view presented in the book has as a major advantage that the discussion well goes beyond the traditional rather old school controversy between territoriality and universality. There is a tempting challenge, however, too. Gradually during the last decade, many EU Member States as well as the EU itself have been in a state of new orientation to the function and the workings of insolvency law, in short, a gradual shift in paradigm from the traditional view for insolvency as a creditor initiated collective collecting device to a debtor focused and stakeholder driven mechanism to continue financially troubled, but viable businesses. As far as I can see this new orientation is not accompanied by a vivid, critical debate initiated by one or more universities or practitioners’ organisations. In our recent report on Business rescue in Insolvency Law (September 2017, see http://bobwessels.nl/2017/09/2017-09-doc3-eli-business-rescue-report-published/) professor Stephan Madaus and myself have tentatively suggested that developing a rescue culture – many EU countries are in the midst of it – does not simply transform insolvency law, but rather gives birth to a new and separate field of law governed by its very own principles and functions: restructuring law. Professor Bork’s principled approach may very well enable to critically reflect on their usefulness in the area of (cross-border) restructuring, evaluate their analytical decisiveness for business rescue or assist to connect to principles which may be identified within business rescue.
Reinhard Bork, Principles of Cross-Border Insovency Law, 2017. Ordering information:
http://intersentia.com/en/principles-of-cross-border-insolvency-law.html.

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2017-09-doc12 20th edition Sealy & Milman

An evergreen in 30 years, now in its 20th edition Sealy & Milman: Annotated Guide to the Insolvency Legislation 2017 has recently been published. From persons I know in UK’s legal and accountancy practice, Sealy and Milman is regarded as a standard reference work in insolvency practice. The blue book (the predominant colour used on its cover over the last 20 years) contains 2 Volumes, with in all some 2800 pages, and the present edition contains the greatest single change to national (England and Wales) insolvency legislation of this century, especially with the introduction of the Insolvency (England and Wales) Rules 2016 (SI 2016/1024).
The method used for the treatment of topics is that legislative texts are followed by annotations to provide background, comment and assistance for practitioners. Like others, this edition generally provides annotated commentary and clarification on the legal and practical implications of the insolvency legislation, whilst many additional statutes and regulations have also been reproduced. Readers should have all the information in one reliable source. The core of Volume I is the Insolvency Act 1986 and the Rules 2016 mentioned. Volume 2 covers among others the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986, the EU Regulation on Insolvency Proceedings 2015 (2015/848), the UNCITRAL Model Law on Cross-Border Insolvency and the Cross Border Insolvency Regulations 2006. It also includes the text, in whole or in part, of over 20 Acts, over 50 Statutory Instruments and a number of practice directions.
Compared to German and Dutch equivalents, the annotations, for instance, to the Recast EU Insolvency Regulation 2015 (in the book abbreviated as ‘EURIP’) are rather limited, many times grouped around a set of articles or a Chapter, not the individual articles themselves and mainly focused on English sources. However, I see Sealy and Milman cited in English court cases several times, as well as for instance in cases decided in Northern Ireland or by the High Court of Ireland. This confirms that Sealy & Milman’s books and their commentary offer guidance to judges and practitioners alike.

Sealy & Milman: Annotated Guide to the Insolvency Legislation 2017, 2 volumes.

Ordering information: http://www.sweetandmaxwell.co.uk/Catalogue/ProductDetails.aspx?productid=719328&recordid=7084

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2017-09-doc11 1st CERIL Statement on Transaction avoidance laws

CERIL (Conference on European Restructuring and Insolvency Law) is an independent non-profit, non-partisan, self-supporting organisation of persons committed to the improvement of restructuring and insolvency laws and practices in Europe, the European Union and its Member States. On 26 September 2017 CERIL issued its first Statement (Statement 2017/01) on Transactions Avoidance Laws. Initiated and chaired by Prof Reinhard Bork, University of Hamburg, a CERIL working group dealt with two of the fundamental principles of transactions avoidance laws: the principle of equal treatment of creditors and the principle of protection of trust. It turned out that these principles are enforced in all jurisdictions examined in this study, albeit in different ways.
The principle of equal treatment of creditors is key when it comes to justifying the avoidance of preferences, whereas other principles must be enforced where the defendant was not a creditor prior to the transaction (e. g. transactions at an undervalue). The law of preferences mirrors the underlying principles in most countries (with some exceptions for England and Wales and Spain). On the one hand, national transactions avoidance laws require (directly or indirectly) some kind of link to the debtor’s substantive insolvency, which is required as well as justified by the principle of equal treatment of creditors. On the other hand, in almost all countries legitimate expectations are protected by fixed suspect periods and especially by the requirement that the defendant knew of the debtor’s financial crisis, which is supported by the principle of protection of trust. Aside from differences in details (e.g. the length of the relevant suspect period), the avoidance laws involved in this study share this general approach and can be justified by the principles mentioned. Many national laws provide additional constraints as well as extensions. Avoidance is frequently facilitated and protection of trust is thus restricted for closely related parties. As opposed to this, the defendant’s expectations to keep what they have received are granted additional protection by restricting transactions avoidance to acts of the debtor, by allocating the burden of proof to the insolvency practitioner and by the use of limitation periods. All in all, it seems promising to apply a principle-based approach to national insolvency laws. Carving out the fundamental commonalities instead of stressing the differences in details by focussing on the underlying principles and their reflection in national insolvency rules supports all efforts to understand and – eventually – harmonise insolvency laws. However, the approach of this pilot research project must be expanded. The next step should be to apply the principlebased approach to the entirety of transactions avoidance law and gradually to other fields of insolvency laws. The results of these future research projects may help to incrementally harmonise this field of law. The full Report is available as Report 2017/01 on CERIL’s website www.ceril.eu. This site also informs about the organisation of CERIL (of which I am proud to be the chair) and its activities. In the meantime, professor Reinout Vriesendorp, secretary of CERIL (info@ceril.eu), or the Reporter, professor Reinhard Bork (bork@uni-hamburg.de), welcome the opportunity to further inform about CERIL or the contents of Report 2017/01.

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2017-09-doc10 Launch of Asian Principles of Restructuring Project

Established in 2016, the Asian Business Law Institute (ABLI) is an Institute based in Singapore. ABLI initiates, conducts and facilitates research and produces authoritative texts with a view to providing practical guidance in the field of Asian legal development and promoting the convergence of Asian business laws. See http://abli.asia/. In August 2017, ABLI in close cooperation with the International Insolvency Institute (III, see www.iiiglob.org) launched a joint project between ABLI and III, titled the Asian Principles of Restructuring. In summary the Project involves the formulation of principles of restructuring, both in and out of court. It is hoped that the principles will advance the convergence of philosophies and approaches to restructurings and the management of insolvencies in Asia, serving as a key reference tool for all stakeholders in Asia. Over the longer term, this will facilitate convergence of Asian insolvency laws. The Project involves two phases with a timeframe of two years. The first phase is a mapping exercise of the business reorganization regimes in select Asian jurisdictions. The second phase will involve an examination of the output of the mapping exercise to identify the areas of similarity and formulate principles for court-based and out of court restructuring that will be uniquely tailored to Asia. I am delighted to have been asked as a member of the Advisory Committee which will provide supervision and guidance to the Project. For more info on the project, see the website.

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2017-09-doc9 2016 book of Look Chan Ho

With the date of this publication cited as at Buddha’s Birthday 2016, in the book ‘Cross-Border Insolvency: Principles and Practice’ (Sweet & Maxwell, 2016, xlv + 351 pages), its author Look Chan Ho, discusses English cross-border insolvency law. The author is dissatisfied that this area of law lacks a solid taxonomic order and that practices relies too much on improvisation. These observations are serious as the author is a well-experienced practitioner and over the years has demonstrated to be a clever analyst of many topics of cross-border insolvency law. Improvisation, however, does not have to be a bad thing in this complex legal area. It may assist in looking for the most pragmatic solution and a fair outcome; it may rather be the arbitrariness and unpredictability that causes discontent.
The author presents a unique approach in his treatment of English’ framework of rules and regimes from the perspective of conflict of laws with a view to strengthening the understanding and practice of cross-border insolvency. He analyses the whole corpus of cross-border insolvency regimes from three conflicts perspectives, namely: (i) jurisdiction to commence insolvency proceedings, (ii) recognition and enforcement of foreign insolvency proceedings, and (iii) choice of law. In such a treatment, he argues, the principles of cross border insolvency can be compared and contrasted across the whole body of cross-border insolvency law.
The focus of the book is mainly English law, which offers, as the author points out, ‘… the widest and most complex range of cross-border insolvency regimes in the world’, which includes the EU Insolvency Regulation, Brussels I, UNCITRAL Model Law on Cross- Border Insolvency, European rules re the reorganisation and winding up of banks and insurers, several domestic English acts and the sheer enigma of common law, leading to the inclusion of court cases from Bermuda, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Africa. All these applicable cross-border regimes have been considered in two ways: (1) what is the law?, and (2) how best to evaluate these different rules.
Under the flag of jurisdiction, a comparison is made of the jurisdiction of the English court to commence insolvency proceedings, more particularly liquidation, administration, company voluntary arrangement and scheme of arrangement. The theme of recognition and enforcement deals with the recognition and enforcement by the English court of a foreign liquidation or reorganisation proceeding and for instance foreign insolvency judgments, e.g. a foreign judgment ordering the defendant to return property on the basis of violation of foreign fraudulent conveyance law
Enforcement and choice of law deal with forms of relief that may be obtained from the English court following the recognition of foreign insolvency proceedings. Choice of law issues, the author notes, have been considered fully. As this area of the law is most undeveloped, this part is organised according to the typical relief sought in cross-border cases, including such topics as discharge of debt, set-off, and avoidance of antecedent transactions.
All the cross-border regimes have been compared and contrasted in order to state the current position and to offer recommendations going forward.
Under the readers of the book one would expect practitioners. They will find a helpful and practical treatment of queries that often occur in practice, including a systematic clarification, e.g. nine points of view to take into account when deciding about a debtor’s COMI (although the 9th (‘the standard of proof is the standard of balance of probability’) is not easy to understand for non-English readers) and that the Chancellor’s incorrect view regarding COMI in the Stanford case had already been signalled by me in 2010 on this blog as well as in my book regarding International Insolvency Law. Another example for support in practice is Ho’s analysis of case law leading to nine propositions regarding the demarcation between the Insolvency Regulation and Brussels I. This should suffice to conclude that, given the depth and detail of the treatment and the sharp analysis presented, the readers also will be scholars. The reader should be prepared to cope with strong or pedantic views, such as that the pari passu principle is ‘often misunderstood’, that English’ state of law regarding cross-border insolvency is ‘chaotic’, that the English courts’ current approach to the extra-territorial application of insolvency provisions is ‘deeply unsatisfactory’, that the UNCITRAL Model Law is ‘a profoundly misguided document’ and that the Guide to Enactment and Interpretation of the Model Law seems misconceived and may hinder the Model Law’s cause.
Nearly all chapters contain extensive footnoting with references to cases and literature, however, rather in common with all literature provided by English authors, it suffers from their unmistakable disease of mastering only one language and even within these sources limiting research to English authors.

Look Chan Ho, Cross-Border Insolvency: Principles and Practice, Sweet & Maxwell, 2016, xlv + 351 pages.
For ordering information, see http://www.sweetandmaxwell.co.uk/Catalogue/ProductDetails.aspx?productid=645498&recordid=6453

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