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Blog 2017


After having published two books in my series Insolvency Law (Wessels Insolventierecht) and a large report for the European Law Institute on Business rescue in insolvency law (with my German colleague Stephan Madaus) this year, I head to something (not completely) different, the well-known Dutch painter Rembrandt (or: Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669)). Rembrandt? Evidently, his paintings and etchings are admired by many all over the world; what is less known, however, is that Rembrandt in 1656 went bankrupt, or rather on 14 July 1656 he applied at the High Court (Hoge Raad) for cessio bonorum (in the Dutch language of that time: ‘brieven van cessie’). Crenshaw (Paul Crenshaw, Rembrandt’s bankruptcy. The artist, his patrons and the art market in seventeenth-century Netherlands, Cambridge University Press 2006), p. 69, has found three underlying or background causes for Rembrandt’s financial troubles: (i) the decline of his artistic production and income in the 1640s, (ii) the general economic downturn following the Peace of Münster (1648), more specifically the period during and after the First Anglo-Dutch War (1652-1654) and (iii) the ‘chaos’ in Rembrandt’s personal life, including the death of  Saskia Uylenburgh (1612-1642). I would add here the problems following from the will of Saskia and the supervision of the inheritance on behalf of their son Titus, only one year old when his mother died, as well as the turbulences with Rembrandt’s subsequent housekeepers/girlfriends. The legal context of the proceedings Rembrandt initiated is quite different than available in present Dutch insolvency law. The Netherlands as we know it today is some 200+ years in existence. In the 1650s in this area ‘provinces’ existed and in Amsterdam, where Rembrandt lived and worked since the early 1630s (he was born in Leiden, went to school there, was apprenticed by well-known painters at this time and had his first pupil, Gerard Dou) Roman law still applied as well as Dutch common law and e.g. Amsterdam Ordinances and local Statutes related to bankruptcy. Also, three institutions were involved, the Desolate Boedelskamer (Chamber of Insolvent Estates), the High Court, and the Weeskamer (Orphans Chamber), that guarded certain parts of Saskia’s estate, as they had a form of custody for the benefit of Rembrandt’s son Titus, who was a minor at that time. How was the cession bonorum organised? Which goals did it try to achieve? Which people were involved? How did the Boedelskamer operate? What is the relation between the Boedelskamer and High Court? Who were Rembrandt’s financiers and creditors? What is the story of the millstone around his neck (real estate, now known as Museum Rembrandt House, which he bought on rather bad conditions already in 1639)? Why did the administration of the cession bonorum took so long? What happened post-bankruptcy, when in 1660 a ‘… seeckere compagnie en handel van schilderijen …’ (a company for trade in paintings) between Titus (‘geassisteerd met Rembrandt’; assisted by Rembrandt) and Hendrickje Stoffels, his third wife, was established? In literature one reads that this ‘compagnie’ was an art dealership (e.g. Crenshaw) and that it was established to protect Rembrandt from further creditors. Just curious what type of company this is and whether indeed creditors had any knowledge of its existence c.q. indeed could not lay their hand on assets of Rembrandt. 
One of the fortunes of being an emeritus is that you can devote time to a subject whenever you please. So, for the next six months I intend to read more about Rembrandt, as there are several recent studies, more general on the rise and development of the art market in the Dutch Golden Age, as well as related to Rembrandt’s ‘bankruptcy’, often written by art historians. I also wonder whether the published historic documents from different archives have been interpreted with a general understanding of applicable law at that time. I am not ready with my idea on how to publish any results of my study (if any), who to involve in its development etc, let alone a planning for timing. Again, that’s one of the advantages of using an own agenda. What I do know is that I may need your help: if you would have any interesting information or ideas on the subject, please let me know at

2017-11-doc6 website and blog work again!

The last few days I received a few e-mails asking what happened to my website. As a matter of fact, it has been down since Friday 17 until this afternoon, Wednesday 22 November. My provider told me that from or via my site over 10.000 emails were sent because my site had been hacked. Evidently, if you were bothered with receiving such an email, please delete it. Result, my website (with the blog, from which you can also take a free subcription to receive recent blogs) has been restored and refreshed. All my blogs (I started over 11(!) years ago with the judgments of the District Court in Amsterdam dated 11 August and 17 August 2006 in the Yukos case and my most recent one on Rembrandt's banckruptcy in 1656 and some unanswered question in this case) can be read or downloaded again. My sincere gratitude to Hans Huisman of Avant Webdiensten in Papendrecht ( for their excellent work and guidance to me in becoming acquianted in the operation of my blog! 

2017-11-doc4 ELI Business rescue report and UNCITRAL

The European Law Institute, today, announced that its flagship Project on the ‘Rescue of Business in Insolvency Law’, elaborated upon by Stephan Madaus and me, was finalised and approved as an ELI Instrument last September by the ELI Council and the General Assembly. See my blog on I just checked: over 150 downloads for the report from the ssrn-site, see On the occasion of the 52nd Session of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Insolvency Law Working Group, the ELI cordially invites ELI Members to an event at the Austrian Ministry of Justice on 20 December 2017 in which the ELI, its Instrument on Insolvency Law and its fruitful collaboration with UNCITRAL will be presented. For more information, including the link to the registration, see To my regret I can not attend, but Stephan Madaus will be present and happy to deal with queries about the result of our work.

2017-11-doc3 Wetgever, regel internationaal insolventierecht!

Dit is een oproep aan het Ministerie van Justitie & Veiligheid om een duidelijk stelsel van regels voor internationaal insolventierecht te ontwerpen, in zaken die niet door de Insolventieverordening worden beheerst. Nederland is een open economie, maar heeft op het terrein van niet door de EU Insolventieverordening beheerste verhoudingen, een onduidelijk stelsel, dat onaanvaardbare leemten laat in de bescherming van rechten van onder meer schuldeisers, dat voor derden in het buitenland volkomen onvoorspelbaar is en dat rechters in Nederland in de kou laat staan omdat de wet hen geen adequaat handvat biedt. Nu er geen internationaal verdrag is en insolventieverhoudingen met Rusland (Yukos), Brazilië (Oi Brazil) en India (Svizera v Maneesh) in tijd en geld kostende complexiteiten resulteren is eigen handelen van Nederland geboden. Een aanzet daarvoor dateert al weer van tien jaar geleden. Titel 10 (‘Internationaal insolventierecht’) uit het Voorontwerp Insolventiewet van 2007 wilde aan de toen bestaande verouderde en weinig zekerheid biedende stand van zaken een einde maken, door een op efficiënte en doeltreffende afwikkeling van grensoverschrijdende procedures gericht stelsel van regels. Het wilde voor derden voorspelbaarheid en rechtszekerheid bieden. De toen ontworpen regels omvatten tevens een systeem van onderlinge uitwisseling van informatie en van samenwerking tussen ‘bewindvoerders’ en rechters in Nederland en in derde-landen. Veel auteurs, waaronder ikzelf, hebben na het arrest van de Hoge Raad uit 2013 inzake Yukos (wederom) opgeroepen Titel 10 als stelsel weer van stal te halen. Zie mijn Wessels Insolventierecht X 2105/10181a. Nadenkend over ontwikkelingen in de laatste twee jaren meen ik echter dat goed beseft moet worden dat Titel 10 wel uit de oude mottenballen komt. Het voorontwerp kan een goede basis vormen voor een nieuwe wet (dus afgesplitst van het Voorontwerp zelf), maar – na ruim tien jaar – die basis zelf zal de nodige, soms grondige aanpassingen behoeven. Ik noem er enkele. Ten eerste zal moeten worden nagegaan of de desiderata waarop het stelsel van toen gebouwd is (doel van de regeling; onderliggende beginselen; thema’s als rechtsmacht Nederlandse rechter, erkenning, toepasselijk recht) heroverweging, aanpassing of uitbreiding verdienen. Ten tweede zal een herzien stelsel mede moeten worden afgestemd op in schier de hele wereld plaatsvindende heroriëntatie van insolventiewetgeving op mogelijkheden van herstructurering, als ook de in gang gezette ontwikkeling naar een Europese richtlijn voor preventieve herstructureringsstelsels. Ten derde zullen relatief nieuwe verschijnselen (bijvoorbeeld insolventie van groepen van vennootschappen, grensoverschrijdende unilaterale toezegging, systeem van registratie van insolventies) moeten worden doordacht. Ten vierde, adequate antwoorden moeten worden gevonden op een in een derde land uitsproken bestuursverbod, de vraag of een fraudemeldingsplicht ook voor de insolventiefunctionaris geldt die in het derde-land is benoemd, of hij/zij dezelfde sedert 1 juli 2017 versterkte informatierechten jegens bestuurders en commissarisen heeft (bijvoorbeeld in het geval de lex concursus van het derde land die rechten niet kent), en, voorlopig tenslotte, de enkele bepalingen die in Titel 10 waren gewijd aan grensoverschrijdende samenwerking van rechters, die sindsdien verder zijn verdiept en uitgewerkt, zie mijn blog op, document 2017-09-doc1. Het Vooronwerp werd in 2011 politiek dood verklaard, maar er is een nieuw kabinet. Zorgt dit voor een nieuw geluid?

2017-11-doc2 In Leiden CBL starts

At the University of Leiden, the launch of a brand new research center is nearing, the new Center for Business & Liability (CBL). Within CBL, some 15 members of the departments of Corporate Law and of Business Sciences of the Leiden Law School work together, in a innovative and challenging way, i.e. multidisciplinary and comparative research in the area of ​​governance, liability and insolvency. The center is at the hard of a larger trend to also do research into the (non-legal) human, cultural and organisational aspects of business liability. On Thursday, 25th and 26th of January 2018, CBL's International Opening Conference will be held. CBL SavetheDate It is a 2-day meeting where various speakers from the Netherlands and abroad will debate the business resilience theme. CBL Conference Brochure Presently a Call for Research Proposals is distributed. During the opening conference, the organisers of CBL will offer a number of excellent researchers to discuss their submitted Research Proposals. This is a great opportunity for researchers! See CBL Call for research proposals More information about the research center and the conference can be found on our website Personally, I would like to extend my congratulations to the leadership of CBL in gettting there research together and for having started this great initiative. In addition conferees of CERIL will be able to dicuss and give input to one of CERIL's larger projects, see This all promises to become an enriching event!