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Category Archives: Australia

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2021 World Bank & INSOL International’s Legislative & Regulatory Group: COVID-19 response and the challenges ahead

Posted in Australia, Canada, Europe, Latin America, Singapore, UK, US

This article was first published on the Private Sector Development Blog on July 27, 2021. The article is co-authored with Mahesh Uttamchandani (Practice Manager, Financial Inclusion, Infrastructure & Access in the Finance, Competitiveness, and Innovation Global Practice, World Bank Group) and Andrés F. Martínez (Chair, World Bank/INSOL International Legislative and Regulatory Group).

COVID-19 continues to present a variety of unique challenges for insolvency regulators and lawmakers worldwide. In March 2020, closing borders and widespread uncertainty underscored a crisis, prompting authorities around the world to devise and rapidly roll out measures designed to shield businesses, financial institutions and individuals against … Continue Reading

Global bankruptcy financial restructuring and insolvency group releases the Q3 2021 issue of International Restructuring Newswire

Posted in Australia, Canada, Europe, Latin America, UK, US

Our global bankruptcy financial restructuring and insolvency team has released its quarterly International Restructuring Newswire.

In this issue, our team examines the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global restructuring market and the reform of legal framework that governs restructurings in Italy, Hong Kong, mainland China and Australia.

Also, we are pleased to announce the appointment of our partner, Scott Atkins, to the role of President of INSOL International.

Continue Reading

Cross-border insolvency in Hong Kong: Will the new cooperation and coordination framework with mainland China provide the impetus for broader reform

Posted in Australia

The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Supreme People’s Court of the People’s Republic of China recently signed a joint record of meeting on mutual recognition of, and assistance to bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings between the courts of the Mainland and of the HKSAR.

International Corporate Rescue has now published an article by Scott Atkins and Dr. Kai Luck which looks more deeply at the implications of this development. We consider whether, despite this initiative, the absence of a uniform cross-border recognition and cooperation framework and an effective formal local rescue and restructuring process will continue … Continue Reading

An Australian perspective – directors’ duties in an insolvency context: existing regulations and opportunities for reform under UNCITRAL Legislative Guide framework

Posted in Australia

UNCITRAL’s Legislative Guide on Insolvency Law is one of the key international policy frameworks intended to assist lawmakers globally to implement optimal insolvency processes.  It contains an outline of the objects and principles that should be reflected in domestic and cross-border insolvency systems to achieve the balance that a best-practice insolvency regime aspires to: efficiency and cost effectiveness on the one hand and fairness to competing creditors on the other hand.

Read the full article which first appeared in SMU’s Singapore Global Restructuring Initiative blog on June 14, 2021.… Continue Reading

Scott Atkins appointed President of INSOL International

Posted in Australia, Canada, Europe, Latin America, Singapore, UK

INSOL International is delighted to announce that Norton Rose Fulbright’s Scott Atkins has been appointed INSOL President, succeeding Julie Hertzberg.

An INSOL Fellow, having been part of the inaugural class in 2008, Scott has been heavily involved with INSOL for almost 15 years, and a Board member since 2014. Scott was a driving force behind INSOL’s Taskforce 2021 and its initiatives which included the establishment of a physical presence in the Asia Pacific region; the launch of an on-line qualification; and the development of a forum for legislators and regulators to consider restructuring and insolvency matters.

Read more on Scott Continue Reading

Global bankruptcy financial restructuring and insolvency group releases the Q2 2021 issue of International Restructuring Newswire

Posted in Australia, Canada, Europe, Latin America, UK, US

This issue of the International Restructuring Newswire surveys recent developments in no fewer than five countries.

In the United States, on the 15th anniversary of the enactment of the Model Law on Cross-Border Insolvency as Chapter 15, we present our annual survey of new case law in the US. These decisions have far-reaching influence in the more than 50 countries that have enacted the Model Law.

In Canada, we look at developments in the use of a corporate “arrangement ” as an alternative to the CCAA insolvency regime.

Recent developments in new restructuring laws are examined in … Continue Reading

Litigation trends survey

Posted in Australia, Canada, Europe, Singapore, UK, US

16th Annual Litigation Trends Survey ReportFieldwork for Norton Rose Fulbright’s sixteenth annual litigation trends survey was conducted in December 2020, providing up-to-date insights on key US disputes trends across a tumultuous year and a look ahead into 2021.

View our sixteenth annual litigation trends survey here for insights from 183 corporate counsel on disputes trends, the impact of COVID-19 on litigation, emerging dispute sources, and more.… Continue Reading

Small businesses, big changes: Australia’s new restructuring process

Posted in Australia

On 1 January 2021, significant changes to Australia’s restructuring and liquidation regime came into effect for small businesses, including a new restructuring process.  These changes were announced on 24 September 2020, however many aspects of the pending changes did not become clear until the bill and associated regulations were released in December 2020. These changes are part of a series of measures introduced in Australia in response to the current and anticipated economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. See Jeffrey Black and Nick White’s previous discussion on these issues,  here and here.

Now that the legislation has commenced, the … Continue Reading

Contagion liability risk in the United States and Australia for parent entities arising from the insolvency of a subsidiary

Posted in Australia, US

With the influx of insolvency cases expected on a global basis in coming months as government support measures are wound back, now is an opportune time for businesses to consider the extent of their potential exposure if a subsidiary liquidates. In particular, can losses be isolated within a liquidating subsidiary, or will there be a contagion effect, so that a parent entity may be held liable for the outstanding debts of the subsidiary?

Read the International Corporate Rescue article or download the reprint for a discussion of that issue by our cross-border team of financial restructuring and insolvency lawyers.… Continue Reading

A DIP of the toe into US Chapter 11 waters for Australia

Posted in Australia

On 24 September 2020, the Australian Government announced the introduction of two new restructuring and insolvency processes for small businesses (having liabilities of less than AU$1 million). It is proposed that these measures will be introduced from 1 January 2021 with a view to reducing the cost, time and complexity burden imposed on small businesses by the existing insolvency processes. The Australian Government has described the changes as “the most significant changes to the Australian insolvency framework in almost 30 years.”

The changes represent the latest in a series of measures introduced in Australia this year in response to the … Continue Reading

Modernising business registers and director identification numbers

Posted in Australia

A package of five legislative reforms — Commonwealth Registers Bill 2019, Treasury Laws Amendment (Registries Modernisation and Other Measures) Bill 2019, Business Names Registration (Fees) Amendment (Registries Modernisation) Bill 2019, Corporations (Fees) Amendment (Registries Modernisation) Bill 2019, and National Consumer Credit Protection (Fees) Amendment (Registries Modernisation) Bill 2019 — received royal assent on 23 June 2020.

These amendments introduce significant changes to the management of Australian business information by Commonwealth bodies, and improve regulation of company directors through the introduction of Director Identification Numbers.

A New register

The Commonwealth Registers Act 2020 (Cth) combines the Australian … Continue Reading

Directors Can Stop the Zombie Company Pandemic

Posted in Australia

Will the real zombie please stand up? The opportunity for directors to take controlIn the article, “Will the real zombie please stand up? The opportunity for directors to take control,” Scott Atkins and Dr Kai Luck continue their analysis of the risk that global fiscal stimulus and support measures in response to COVID-19 will be used by some entities to continue trade even when they have no realistic prospect of long-term profitability.

There are personal liability laws for directors that should now provide directors with an incentive to seek assistance from expert restructuring advisers to assess a company’s viability and, if its downturn is endemic, to look to formal insolvency options.

Directors who … Continue Reading

The new pandemic: Zombie companies will eat Australia’s COVID-19 economic recovery

Posted in Australia

The new pandemic: Zombie companies will eat Australia’s COVID-19 economic recoveryIn this article, Scott Atkins and Dr Kai Luck consider how the extraordinary government fiscal and stimulus measures introduced in response to COVID-19 may provide an incentive for so-called zombie companies—those that were facing endemic operational and liquidity issues pre-crisis and that have no realistic prospect of successful trade in the long-term—to continue on for the next 6 to 12 months, preventing the recycling of important capital needed to reinvest in the innovative new business ventures that will drive economic recovery and eventual growth.… Continue Reading

COVID-19: From black swan to boiling frog

Posted in Australia

COVID-19: From black swan to boiling frogScott Atkins and Dr Kai Luck examine in this article how underlying corporate governance and risk failures may have contributed to boards being caught so off-guard by COVID-19 and how COVID-19 ‘tunnel vision’ (focused only on pandemic-related business continuity and risk management plans) may lead to companies being exposed to equally devastating risks in other contexts—including climate change and cybersecurity—as the economic recovery period commences across the globe.… Continue Reading

The shift we needed: The fight to save Virgin already changing corporate rescue laws in Australia

Posted in Australia

Airplane flying in cloudsIn this article, Scott Atkins and Dr Kai Luck look at the important role Australian courts can play in creating a stronger corporate and business rescue culture to help financially distressed but long-term viable entities navigate the economic downturn caused by COVID-19.

Since this article was written, the Federal Court of Australia granted further orders on 13 and 15 May 2020 exempting the voluntary administrators from personal liability for new contracts entered into as they seek to restructure the Virgin entities (which operate Australia’s second major airline) with a view to a going concern sale to a third party.

Looking … Continue Reading

Don’t panic this pandemic: new safe harbours for directors in COVID-19

Posted in Australia, Singapore, UK

In recognition of the significant economic impact of COVID-19, several jurisdictions have passed (or propose to pass) legislation to provide temporary relief for directors of businesses in financial distress, and hopefully mitigate some of the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Australia

Relevant Act: Coronavirus Economic Response Package Omnibus Act 2020 (Cth)

Length of Grace Period: 6 months from 25 March 2020 (unless extended by legislative instrument)

The minimum debt which can form the basis for a statutory demand has been increased from AU$2,000 to AU$20,000. The period within which the debt must be paid or an application made to … Continue Reading

The Corporations Amendment (Strengthening Protections for Employee Entitlements) Act 2019 commenced April 6, 2019

Posted in Australia

Australia has a taxpayer funded scheme which guarantees employee entitlements arising out of liquidation up to statutory caps. It is known as the Fair Entitlements Guarantee Scheme (FEG). The Australian Government has become concerned that questionable practices which rely on FEG to avoid employee entitlement obligations, such as illegal phoenixing, are on the rise and imposing significant costs on FEG and therefore, the Australian taxpayer. The Government has introduced legislative amendments to facilitate the effective recovery of entitlements from parties which take part in these questionable practices.… Continue Reading

UNCITRAL draft Model Law on Enterprise Group Insolvency

Posted in Australia

In December 2018, UNCITRAL Working Group V (Insolvency Law) held its 54th session in Vienna where it discussed, among other topics, cross border insolvency of enterprise groups. These discussions included amendments to the Enterprise Group Insolvency: Draft Model Law (‘draft Model Law’) and the Enterprise Group Insolvency: Guide to Enactment of the Draft Model Law (‘draft Guide to Enactment’). The Working Group began drafting the Model Law after agreeing to the UNCITRAL mandate in December 2013.… Continue Reading

English Court of Appeal affirms application of the “Gibbs Rule” in a cross-border restructuring

Posted in Australia, US

Under the English common law rule known as the “Gibbs rule,” a contractual obligation can be changed or discharged only in accordance with the law governing that obligation. Consequently, a debt governed by English law may not be discharged in a foreign insolvency or under a foreign restructuring plan unless the creditor submits to the foreign insolvency proceeding or consents to the plan. Earlier this week, the Court of Appeal of England and Wales affirmed the application of the Gibbs rule in a case under the Cross-Border Insolvency Regulations 2006 (“CBIR”), Great Britain’s version of the UNCITRAL Model … Continue Reading

Will Singapore become an international center of debt restructuring?

Posted in Australia

Singapore has set its sights on becoming an “International Center for Debt Restructuring”, approaching the status of London and New York.

Key to achieving that goal, in 2017 Singapore enacted the Companies (Amendment) Act 2017 which effected major legislative changes to restructuring provisions of the Singapore Companies Act (Cap 50) 2006 (referred to hereafter as the “Companies Act”). That legislation has been followed by further reforms with the passage of the Insolvency, Restructuring and Dissolution Act 2018 (which passed parliament on 1 October 2018).… Continue Reading

Australian law reform: the new ‘safe harbour’ for directors and stay on enforcement of ‘ipso facto’ clauses

Posted in Australia

Australian insolvency laws recently underwent the most comprehensive review and reform since the early 1990s.  Part of those reforms included the introduction of:

* a ‘safe harbour’ for directors in respect of the insolvent trading offence; and

* a stay on the exercise of certain rights (including termination rights) for counterparties (or ‘ipso facto’ clauses).

The New ‘Safe Harbour’ for Directors

Directors of Australian companies are liable for any debts incurred while the company is, or is likely to become, insolvent. The reforms introduce a safe harbour for directors to somewhat temper the onerous insolvent trading provisions.… Continue Reading

AAT approves registered liquidator application of non-resident and provides important clarification in respect of the new registration regime

Posted in Australia

Norton Rose Fulbright represented Mitchell Mansfield, an Australian citizen but who now resides in and works in Singapore, of Borelli Walsh in a successful appeal before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) in relation to his application for registration as a liquidator.

The appeal raises significant issues about the new statutory regime for the registration of liquidators following the reforms introduced by the Insolvency Law Reform Act 2016 (Cth) (ILRA) and is the first case before the AAT where the operation of the new regime has been considered. Deputy President J Redfern (Redfern DP) handed down her decision and reasons for … Continue Reading