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INSOL Fellows Forum

by on July 15, 2019

On 2 April 2019 the 5th Fellows Forum took place, on the opening day of the INSOL International Singapore annual regional conference 2019. The Fellows Forum is an annually recurring half day program, for and by INSOL Fellows only, during which the Fellows exchange knowledge and experiences from their diverse practices. With the Fellows being from jurisdictions spread out across the globe, the program each year provides a valuable addition to the INSOL Global Practice Course that each Fellow has graduated from. The Forum was chaired by INSOL Fellows Allan Nackan (Farber Financial) and Lucas Kortmann (RESOR).

Andres Martinez (World Bank) started off the morning by explaining the role of the World Bank assisting countries around the globe in developing their insolvency regimes. He stressed the relevance of well-developed insolvency laws for the economic system and attractiveness of a country. Andres also provided an interesting overview of the reasons why countries change their law and the challenges these countries face. Shaun Langhorne (Hogan Lovells) then zoomed in on Singapore as one of the countries that has recently amended their insolvency regime, with the goal to create an ecosystem attractive for foreign parties to come to Singapore to do restructurings. He explained the key characteristics of the new law, which neatly combines features of US Chapter 11 and UK Schemes of Arrangements.

In the second session, Roger Bischof (Bonnard Lawson) and Geoff Simms (AJ Capital) shared their on-the-ground knowledge and experiences from China (including Hong Kong) and Indonesia respectively. Roger ran the audience through the legislative developments in both China and Hong Kong, where cross-border insolvency elements are being introduced and improved. Geoff focused on the Non-Performing Loans (NPL) market in Indonesia, which he views is a key driver for the cleaning up of bank files, more so than developments on the legislative level. Using data review, Geoff took the audience through the NPL developments in the region, focusing not only on Indonesia but also comparing it to the other countries in the region, identifying common problems that exist.

After the coffee break, two case studies were presented. Stephen Packman (Archer&Greiner) was involved in the US Chapter 15 recognition proceedings of Manley Toys, providing some fascinating insights into the rather contentious process that took over three years, despite the fact that the US Bankruptcy Code provides that recognition should be granted at the first available opportunity. Christiaan Zijderveld (Houthoff) elaborated on the very recent and truly novel restructuring of Croatian agrifood retail company Agrokor, the restructuring of which only became effective on April 1st (no April Fools’ joke!), i.e. one day prior to the Fellows Forum taking place. As Agrokor represented 15% of the Croatian national GDP, the country legislator had to introduce the “Lex Agrokor” to allow for an orderly restructuring rather than a liquidation of the group.

The final session of the Fellows Forum introduced a new concept, FED talks (loosely inspired by TED Talks): a Fellow making a 5 minute presentation to make a point, then opening up to the floor for a 10 minutes discussion. Allan Nackan (Farber) kicked off on the use of social media being an integral part of business development, allowing for a lively discussion in the advantages and disadvantages of using LinkedIn and other social media platforms.

Following Allan, Nico Tollenaar (RESOR) eloquently took the audience on a lively trip down the Relative Priority Rule, recently introduced in the EU directive, explaining why the European legislator fundamentally misunderstood the concept introduced in US literature and thus creating a new piece of legislation that may create more problems than it aims to solve.

To round off the morning, Sonya van de Graaff (Morrison & Foerster) explained the English rule of Gibbs and why it effectively goes against the idea of recognition of foreign insolvency proceedings, followed by another interactive debate on how the Model Law on recognition and enforcement of Insolvency Related Judgment could do away with the rule of Gibbs.

As always, the Fellows Forum was followed by a session during which the Fellows discussed how to keep developing the Fellowship as well as the role of the Fellows within INSOL International and how the Fellows, as global ambassadors of INSOL International, can contribute to the continued development and role of INSOL within the global insolvency practice.

As organizers we, Allan Nackan and Lucas Kortmann, reflect on another interesting, successful and entertaining Fellows Forum, which again showed that Fellows not only possess in-depth knowledge and practical experience from around the globe, but also form strong bonds of friendship and are always ready to help each other.

Published courtesy of INSOL International. This article appeared in INSOL World Quarter 2 2019 issue.

 

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