After the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill was published on 20 May 2020, it raced through the House of Commons and the House of Lords, coming into force in under six weeks as the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020, with some of the temporary measures taking effect from 1 March 2020. Although the new tools are entirely untested, the sooner they become an integrated part of the UK restructuring landscape, the better.
The much-anticipated Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill was published on 20 May 2020. The proposed legislation is split into two broad categories: temporary provisions brought about as a result of COVID-19 and permanent provisions which will result in fundamental changes to UK insolvency law. The proposals, both temporary and permanent, reflect a shift towards a more debtor-friendly regime.
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.
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.
A court recently confirmed that legal professional privilege does not automatically vest in the trustee in bankruptcy. Legal professional privilege is a fundamental human right such that express statutory powers would be necessary to deprive the bankrupt of that right. Therefore, the bankrupt would need to waive privilege or consent to the use of privileged documents.
Licensors of IP rights may soon be unable to terminate licences where the licensee has gone into an insolvency process. The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act, which recently came into force, reverses a previous legal position in relation to contracts for the supply of goods and services meaning that such contracts cannot be terminated simply because of a counterparty entering an insolvency process.