Bruce Leonard, one of the most influential and respected lawyers in the field of international insolvency law, has passed away. Bruce has been an esteemed lawyer in Canada, but non-Canadians know him best as the auctor intellectualis, founder and chair for many years of the International Insolvency Institute (III). III presently is a non-profit limited-membership invitational association of over 300 leading insolvency professionals, academics and judges from over 60 countries world-wide.
Bruce was an III chair and director from its inception in 2000 and was amongst other things the Past Chair (1992-1996) of the (now) renamed Committee J on Insolvency and Creditors’ Rights of the International Bar Association (IBA). That’s where I met him for the first time in the early nineties. He was an International member of the American Law Institute, Chair and Co-Reporter for Canada for the Transnational Insolvency Cooperation Principles Among the Nafta Countries of 2001 and the convenor of joint discussion panels of the American College of Bankruptcy and III for many years.
Bruce served for a long period as a Delegate to the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) in relation to its work on its Model Law on Cross-Border Insolvency and the Legislative Guide on Insolvency Law. Bruce has written many publications on international insolvency law and has had a omni-global presence during all sorts of occasions and conferences. His leadership in building the III has attracted such a talented and divers group of practitioners, judges and academics as it presently is, one of the most respected organizations in the field of international insolvency. He successfully worked together with many of its members, as I can testify, having been a director in the III board between 2004-2010 (with many board meetings by phone at 10 p.m in the Netherlands).
Thanks to his initiatives collaboration grew with other organisations like the American Law Institute, The American College of Bankruptcy and with UNCITRAL. It was an honour for me to present Bruce in 2007, on behalf of all the membership, the III Founder’s Award for his contributions in the field of international insolvency and his dedication in the development of III. Having navigated III to its prominence as a strong skipper, it was not easy for him to handover parts of III’s governance to others. But III is since a few years in very able hands, and Bruce still was active in promoting the III’s NextGen Leadership Program, a program designed to identify the best and the brightest younger insolvency practitioners and academics in the world. Without Bruce’s vision and tireless efforts III would not be the great organisation as it presently is.
I am saddened by the news of his loss and offer my sincere condolences to his family. Bruce will be missed by all at the next Annual Conference in June this year in London.