A district court recently sentenced a company in liquidation that had once been Cyprus's biggest grocery retail company. The sentence concerned the issuance of a cheque with insufficient funds. According to the court, the fact that the company was under liquidation did not negate the fact that a sentence should be proportionate to the offence and act as a deterrent. The case is a useful illustration of how companies in liquidation should be treated when it comes to the imposition of fines.
The European Commission has proposed a directive on preventive restructuring frameworks in order to reduce significant barriers to the free flow of capital caused by differences in member states' restructuring and insolvency frameworks. It aims for all member states to implement key principles for effective preventive restructuring and second-chance frameworks, as well as measures to improve the quality and efficiency of all types of insolvency procedure by reducing their length and associated costs.
A liquidator recently pursued a claim that the transfer of a company's trading inventory in satisfaction of money owed to the company's former director was a transaction at an undervalue and preference. The judge agreed, holding that the inventory transfer had been entered into with the intention of putting the former director in a better position than she would have been in on the company's liquidation.
The tax issues of a bankruptcy estate and the creditors differ depending on whether the bankruptcy estate continues the previous business of the debtor company. The effects of a debtor's bankruptcy on the creditor's taxation may be particularly significant where the creditor is a lessor to the debtor. Pursuant to legislation, a bankruptcy estate is, in principle, entitled to choose whether to conduct activity liable to value added tax provided that it does not continue the debtor's business.
The High Court recently struck out a claim by a liquidator who had already brought a claim arising from the same facts against the same defendants. The court relied on the fact that the economic benefit of pursuing the claim would accrue only to the liquidator and held that the second claim constituted an abuse of process, as monies recovered would simply be paid back to the respondents as creditors, less the liquidators fees and costs.
A liquidator recently applied for permission to amend his claim for fraudulent trading. The claim related to purported defrauding of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for non-payment of value added tax. Among other things, the judge held that whilst the costs order constituted loss to HMRC as a creditor, no valid claim in respect of costs was pleaded against the respondents and therefore there was no reasonably arguable case on the point.
German regulations obliging managing directors to monitor the liquidity of a company during crisis situations are typically strict and give rise to the risk of personal liability in cases of non-compliance. Legislation requires company management to file for insolvency proceedings without undue delay in the case of illiquidity or over-indebtedness. Continued trading where the company is considered to be materially insolvent can have serious consequences.
The First Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that Section 1109(b) of the Bankruptcy Code provides a creditors' committee with an "unconditional right to intervene" in an adversary proceeding. This decision further bolsters the right of creditors' committees to intervene in and be heard on all matters within a bankruptcy case and positions the First Circuit in line with the Second and Third Circuits, which both have similarly concluded that the code affords an unconditional right to intervene.
Investors may, for reasons outside of their control, find themselves with a financially distressed company in their portfolio and possibly in unfamiliar territory. For any distressed situation, being mindful of early warning signs and initiating contingency planning options sooner rather than later will assist in navigating what can sometimes seem like a minefield of issues which arise on an insolvency.
The annual creditors' meeting of former state-owned air carrier Cyprus Airways recently took place. The state stepped in following the company's collapse and paid the majority of employees the money owed to them. Due to this payment, and by virtue of Section 300 of the Companies Law, the state became a preferential creditor, having made a payment that was owed to preferential creditors as a third party on behalf of the company.
The legislature recently took steps to improve the follow-up monitoring of companies in financial difficulty and strengthen the fight against inactive companies. Companies that fail to pay their social security or value added tax debts, file their annual accounts or fulfil other administrative obligations on time will now appear on the radar of the Commercial Court's Investigative Services much earlier. The services' recently extended powers of action could lead to unfortunate surprises for some companies.
The recent enactment of Law 155 represents an ideal opportunity to modernise Italian insolvency proceedings through a comprehensive set of guiding principles and criteria to be applied to rationalise the associated judicial proceedings. Key changes include the development of mechanisms to recognise and resolve a debtor's business crisis before it becomes irreversible and the simplification of judicial proceedings, which will be faster and prioritise proceedings that allow business continuity.
A plaintiff recently applied for a bankrupt's committal to prison for contempt of court, providing certification that the bankrupt's conduct had breached the Insolvency Act 1986 without reasonable excuse. The court's decision appears to be the first to clarify the procedure for applying for a committal order on the basis of breaches of the Insolvency Act and provides helpful guidance to practitioners on this issue.
The Court of Appeal recently held that there is a complete statutory code for interest recovery on proved debts in administrations and liquidations. Further, the court stated that statutory interest represents compensation for dividends paid after the administration, and does not depend on any right to interest under the underlying claim.
A recent Court of Appeal case has clarified that where the underlying liability on which a bankruptcy order is made is subsequently set aside, the correct remedy is rescission under Section 375(1) of the Insolvency Act. Further, annulment under Section 282(1)(a) is the appropriate remedy when, on grounds existing at the time of making the bankruptcy order, the order ought not to have been made.
A bankruptcy estate may take action for the claw back of transactions that have been carried out in relation to a certain creditor before the initiation of bankruptcy proceedings, if such transactions have been adverse to the interests of other creditors. Certain transactions can be reversed during a five-year hardening period if the relevant creditor knew, or should have known, that the debtor was insolvent when the transactions were undertaken.
On February 9 2017 the Great Senate of the Federal Fiscal Court published a decision stating that the Restructuring Order was illegal. On June 27 2017 the legislature introduced new legislation which provides that the tax authorities may waive taxes or assess taxes at a lower level. However, the new legislation can be applied only where creditors have waived their claims after February 8 2017.
The Insolvency Code was recently amended in response to the introduction of the EU Insolvency Regulation, creating – for the first time – specific rules for the insolvency of corporate groups in Austria. From a practical standpoint, this approach is welcome, as it may lead to faster and more efficient insolvency proceedings. It remains to be seen how the new rules will affect insolvency practice and whether coordination proceedings according to the EU regulation will be applied in practice.
In between the presentation of a winding-up petition and the making of a winding-up order, a company entered into a settlement agreement with its founder. The judge concluded that the intended claims by the company's liquidators were not barred by the agreement. The judge also held that the release of contractual rights constituted a disposition, as did a promise not to sue. The provisions of the settlement agreement were therefore void.
The administrators of Lehman Brothers Europe Ltd recently brought an application for directions on whether to make a substantial distribution of surplus to the company's sole shareholder while the company was in administration and the administrators' role in that distribution. To navigate around the Insolvency Act, the administrators devised a nifty strategy whereby the distribution would be made using the residual powers still vested in the directors and shareholders of the company pursuant to the Companies Act.