In het FD van vanochtend, 14 juli 2023, gaat het natuurlijk ook over de surseance van fietsenfabrikant VanMoof. De klanten? Een woordvoerder van de Consumentenbond laat de bekende riedel aantekenen: “Helaas staan consumenten vaak achteraan in de rij. Eerst krijgen de bank en de belastingdienst hun geld terug en daarna eventueel de klanten.”
De Europese think tank Conference on European Restructuring and Insolvency Law (CERIL) wil deze lethargische houding doorbreken. In een rapport van september doet zij de navolgende aanbeveling. Zie https://www.ceril.eu/news/ceril-statement-2022-3-on-consumer-rights-in-restructuring-and-insolvency. Benieuwd of dit wordt opgepikt.
Whilst the European Commission is called upon to continue to maintain and confirm positions of consumers in general, it is recommended that it will arrange, under its aegis in collaboration with several European universities and European consumer organisations, a discussion to further clarify and possibly to strengthen a consumer’s position in case of insolvency or preventive restructuring of a company to which the consumer is a client/customer.
Such a discussion could focus on four areas of interests:
1. Information regarding the contractual position of a consumer once restructuring and
insolvency proceedings, including cross-border proceedings, are opened
A proposition for debate: insolvency or restructuring proceedings do not, in principle, terminate information rights of consumers or guarantees (unless a contract provides differently). Shortly after the opening of insolvency or restructuring proceedings, including cross-border proceedings, a consumer receives understandable information on its contractual position.
2. Information on the position of a consumer during the course of restructuring and insolvency proceedings
A proposition for debate: during insolvency or restructuring proceedings, including cross-border proceedings, a consumer receives timely and periodically understandable information about the progress of these proceedings.
3. Representation of consumers (or their interests) in restructuring and insolvency proceedings
A proposition for debate: in insolvency proceedings as well as in restructuring proceedings, consumers should be treated as a separate class of creditors. A representative of the consumers should be appointed to guard the consumers’ interests in restructuring and insolvency proceedings in certain industries with a high density of consumers.
4. Strengthening of a consumer’s financial position in case of its prepayments for goods or services in restructuring and insolvency proceedings
A proposition for debate: in case of prepayments by a consumer in advance (prior to delivery of goods or services after a company goes into insolvency or restructuring proceedings), EU law should strengthen a consumer’s position. This could be achieved, for instance, by (a) allocating a special part of the assets to the consumers, (b) by forming a mandatory class of creditors in case of restructuring, or (c) by establishing a security right for (a part of) a consumer’s claim, to be established by operation of law at the moment of opening insolvency or restructuring proceedings.