Western European countries are Code-oriented legal systems. Large parts of commercial law, civil law and insolvency law are set, not in stone, but in legislative texts. Many times the meaning of these texts flow from the mere words of a provision or the way courts have interpreted and applied it. In certain cases, the way these provisions are interpreted follow from specific literature. Limiting myself to insolvency law, the German Insolvenzordnung has a major impact. I remember advising the government in Georgia in 1998, when I learned that the original pre-1918 insolvency law in this state was taken from German insolvency law. People in the new independent state wished to have its meaning reflected in new Geogian law at that time. In the Netherlands I was involved in a large overhaul of the very old Dutch Bankruptcy Act (1896), and as commission overseeing the new proposals, we looked for instance very close to Section 1 of the German Insolvency Code, providing the objectives of insolvency proceedings. The Dutch proposals were shelved, in 2011, but the German Insolvency Code is alive and kicking! It has been changed dramatically over the last decade and the second edition of the book of Eberhard Braun (ed.), German Insolvency Code, with over 1000 pages, just published, reflects these recent changes.
The basic structure is an article-by-article commentary on the German Insolvenzordnung. The books aim is to provide answers to all practice-oriented questions concerning German insolvency and restructuring law. Via a 30-pages long index at the end of the book and a 50-pages systematic overview of the Act’s content, non-German lawyers can rather easily find the topic of interest. The treatment of the German Act includes a concise and compact treatment of Germany’s new (domestic) group insolvency law and a commentary on its proposed rules on transaction avoidance. The book therefore will be consulted by practitioners and I am sure, given the importance of German’s growing leadership role in the area of restructuring and insolvency law, scholars and researchers cannot do without the provided English translations. Close to 40 authors have contributed to the book, nearly all being active as lawyers, some of them from outside Germany. The references to court cases are limited and references to literature are kept to the basic minimum.
Compared to the first edition of 2006 (the ‘Blue Braun’) this second edition addresses also the current state and gives a certain focus to areas in cross-border situations. Seven country reports on the legal framework for restructuring and insolvency in France, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, the UK, the US and Japan are included in this commentary. I wonder whether this has turned out to the satisfaction of the editor. The pieces written are in many cases short or too short (the Dutch one) and several times without further explanation the reader remains in the dark. Moreover, the ‘foreign’ pieces are scattered all over the book’s commentary. It suggests that the ‘foreign’ bits are in line with structural elements of the German Act (which is doubtful), whilst these bits themselves disturb the rather fixed ordering of the Act. Be that as it is, the large part of the book, with the English translation of the German Insolvency Code and the provided practical commentary is highly topical, covering many reforms of the recent years. In all, a noteworthy and in many respects helpful publication.
Eberhard Braun (ed.), German Insolvency Code. Article-by-Article Commentary, 2nd ed, Verlag C.H. Beck 2019, LXXVIII + 1134 pp. ISBN 978 3 406 72238 7.
Note: this book I received free of charge from the publisher with the request to announce it or to review it on my blog at www.bobwessels.nl.