Last Monday, I received the sad news that Harvey Miller had passed away. He was 82. Undoubtedly, Harvey Miller is one of the giants in bankruptcy practice in the USA. With a short period outside the firm, he has been a partner of Weil Gotshal & Manges for close to 50 years. Harvey Miller was one of the first partners at Weil to start Weil’s bankruptcy practice and he played an outstanding role in many of the large corporate bankruptcy cases, such as Texaco, Continental, Enron, General Motors and, of course, Lehman Brothers.
His insights on how the law works in practice were ground breaking. I remember a discussion in 2004 in Washington (the annual event of the American College of Bankruptcy) were he seriously questioned the viability of Chapter 11 reorganisation for solving distress businesses, explaining the strong role lenders have (appointing a CRO, e.g. at that time in the Bethlehem Steel case). Largely, he confirmed my views, which were only based on theoretical studies (see, in Dutch, ‘Meer marktwerking bij surseance’, Tijdschift voor Insolventierecht (Themanummer ‘Toekomstig insolventierecht’), januari/februari 2000, pp. 19-23, providing practical examples to further develop my views.
Two years ago the Weil offices in New York were hosting a III meeting where we both had presentations and where we had a chance to speak more in debth about modernisation of reorganisation laws in several countries in Europe and what the Eurpean continent picked up from Chapter 11. The bankruptcy world has lost a great legal practitioner, or, as some expressed a few days ago, the Godfather of Bankruptcy Law.