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Insolvency Reform in Asia. The Role of the Judiciary Manfred Balz Deutsche Telekom AG Bali, Indonesia, 7 February 2000. Overview. Links with Bankruptcy Philosophy and Institutions The German Model Judicial Involvement: Selected Issues Jurisdiction for Bankruptcy Related Litigation

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insolvency reform in asia

Insolvency Reform in Asia

The Role of the Judiciary

Manfred BalzDeutsche Telekom AG

Bali, Indonesia, 7 February 2000

  • Links with Bankruptcy Philosophy and Institutions
  • The German Model
  • Judicial Involvement: Selected Issues
  • Jurisdiction for Bankruptcy Related Litigation
  • Judicial Liability and Social Responsibility
court involvement in economic decisions i organizing collective action
Court Involvement in Economic Decisions I Organizing Collective Action

Insolvency (insufficiency of assets to cover debt) makes bankruptcy a

common pool problem. Creation of a pool of assets (estate) and the stay

on individual creditor action require collective action. Legislative options

and bankruptcy philosophies are:

  • The judge weighs and balances claimant interests and controls all junctures of proceedings (making issues of justice of all economic issues)
  • The administrator articulates (presumptive) common creditor interest under procedural judicial control
  • Claimants negotiate in a pluralistic process (individually, or in structured way - through committees and bodies) essential admi-nistration issues under the moderation of the administrator and/or the court
court involvement in economic decisions ii bankruptcy a multiparty private dispute
Court Involvement in Economic Decisions IIBankruptcy: A Multiparty Private Dispute

High complexity and diversity of claimant interests:

  • Monetary v. monetary plus legitimate or illegitimate non-monetary interests (business relationships, employment, macroeconomic goals;harassment or removal of a competitor),
  • Valuable v. depreciated pre-bankruptcy entitlements (secured v. unsecured debt; debt v. equity) and
  • Different risk inclination and cash preference

influence claimants’ preference for speed and for rehabilitation v.

liquidation. Rescue means re-investing one’s potential liquidation cash

dividend in a new venture. Therefore, decisions on bankruptcy

adjudication, case administration, continuation or break-up, and rescue

are essentially adversary issues of an economic nature.

court involvement in economic decisions iii efficiency and legitimacy
Court Involvement in Economic Decisions IIIEfficiency and Legitimacy
  • Negotiated solutions/decision-making by financial stakeholders are generally preferable in terms of economic efficiency (i.a., because legitimate non-monetary interests may not be disclosed and will not be priced and considered in authoritative decision-making).
  • Paternalistic decisions on economic issues (e.g., risk taking, time value of money, cash preference, rescue or market exit) are not legitimate state functions in market economies; forcing such decisions upon the judiciary may jeopardize confidence in judges and the rule of law.
  • In terms of institutional economics, the ideal system allows for a maximum of decision-making by stakeholders and allots influence rights according to the bankruptcy value of entitlements; the cost of delay (time value of money-interest) should be borne by those causing delay.
  • The price of stakeholder decision-making may be time. Fixed deadlines for resolving critical issues may often be the realistic second best.
court involvement in economic decisions iv the german model a
Court Involvement in Economic Decisions IVThe German Model (a)

A unitary proceeding with unitary rules within which a break-up

liquidation, a sale of the going concern, and a rescue plan may be

pursued by creditors. The judge supervises the legality of proceedings

and moderates trustee and creditor action.

No court involvement in essentially economic issues, such as:

  • Closing down or continuing the debtor business
  • Lifting the stay on secured creditors
  • Assumption or rejection of pending contracts
  • Liquidation v. rehabilitation
  • Assessing viability of the debtor, and feasibility of a rescue
  • Sale of assets in a piecemeal fashion or as going concern
court involvement in economic decisions v the german model b
Court Involvement in Economic Decisions VThe German Model (b)

A minimum of judicial involvement in economic issues is achieved by:

  • Granting broad powers to a trustee (both for liquidations and in rehabilitations) owing his function to the continued trust of creditors
  • Reasonable personal liability of the trustee toward the estate and energetic enforcement,
  • Granting creditors a maximum of influence rights on the course and outcome of proceedings, and
  • Legal rules pricing delay and risk-taking adequately by requiring the trustee to pay regular contractual interest out of the estate to secured creditors on the secured portion of their claims.
issues the opening decision
Issues: The Opening Decision

Adjudication should be speedy without burdening the judge with complex

economic inquiries.

  • Clear cut trigger criteria: Illiquidity/Nonpayment of mature debt (no balance sheet test)
  • Debtor filings: Automatic commencement of case (subject to good faith review)
  • Creditor filings: Hearing within a short deadline with possibility of protective measures and appointment of interim trustee. Serious civil creditor liability for intentionally wrongful and frivolous filings.
issues appointment of a trustee
Issues: Appointment of a Trustee
  • Autonomous initial choice by the judge of an independent and qualified trustee (and interim trustee during the opening stage) unless debtor is left in possession
  • Right for creditors’ assembly to elect a/another trustee by qualified majority vote or to leave debtor in possession
  • A licensing system for insolvency practitioners will reduce judicial responsibility for initial choice and curb possible misuse of creditor discretion
  • Powers of the court to relegate an incompetent or unworthy trustee at its own motion with right of creditors to name new trustee
  • Disciplining incompetent or negligent trustees by a licensing body or other government institution (such as the U.S. Trustee system) will reduce judicial responsibility for trustee conduct.
issues continuation of debtor business
Issues: Continuation of Debtor Business
  • Initiative/decision for the trustee, subject to control by creditors (creditors‘ committee or assembly); no judicial control needed.
  • Stay of ongoing liquidation, if a rescue appears possible or a rehabilitation plan has been proposed: A temporary judicial halt is needed only until a creditor decision can be sought. Manifestly unreasonable plan proposals should be disregarded by the judge.
  • End business continuation and start piecemeal sale: Subject to creditor decisions an issue for the trustee; no judicial involvement needed.
issues lifting the stay on secured creditors
Issues: Lifting the Stay on Secured Creditors
  • Adequate creditor protection for secured creditors must create economic incentive for trustee/estate to abandon collateral to creditors which is inconsequential for the estate or for a possible reorganization.
  • Preferable form of adequate protection: Full guarantee of secured claim/collateral value as of opening of proceedings plus regular contractual interest on secured portion of claim.
  • No judicial involvement needed when adequate protection for secured creditors is strong enough.
issues lodging and verification of claims
Issues: Lodging and Verification of Claims
  • Claims should be lodged with the trustee; no court involvement needed
  • Verification of claims in a creditor hearing monitored by the court (clerk); claims shall be deemed accepted if neither the trustee nor any creditor objects as to justification, amount, or priority/secured status.
  • A contested claim shall be deemed rejected for bankruptcy purposes unless the creditor concerned sues the opposing party-in-interest for declaratory judgment on the claim and and eventual priority/secured status [possibly within a statutory deadline]; fees should be based on presumptive dividend, not on amount of claim.
  • For voting purposes (in creditor assemblies or in a vote on a plan) contested claims should be determined preliminarily in a summary fashion by the court (clerk or judge).
issues business rescue i two types of rescues
Issues: Business Rescue I(Two Types of Rescues)
  • Sale of All, or Substantially All, Assets (Possibly also of Debtor Equity) to a New Entity (Liquidation Type)
    • Sale of Going Concern on the Market
    • Distribution of Cash Proceeds According to Priority
  • Rehabilitation via Plan (Reorganization/Composition Type)
    • „Sale“ of Entity to Claimants
    • Distribution of Value Open to Negotiation (Treatment of Dissenting Claimants - Policy Choices: Unrestrained Majority Rule, Liquidation Value, Absolute Priority)
    • Cash and Non-Cash Compensation Possible
    • Valuation May be Needed (Uncertainty, Cost, Delay, Litigation)
issues business rescues ii liquidation type rescues
Issues: Business Rescues II(Liquidation Type Rescues)
  • No judicial involvement needed
  • Critical issues such as - fair market price formation - insider dealing may be controlled by appropriate legal rules and/or creditor approval of auction methods and conditions
issues business rescues iii reorganization composition type rescues
Issues: Business Rescues III(Reorganization/Composition Type Rescues)

Effective and fair reorganization type rescues in bankruptcy require

considerable judicial involvement in economic issues for plan

confirmation, e.g.:

  • Assessing the hypothetical liquidation value of claimant entitlements(under the “common interest of creditor” or “best-interest” tests)
  • Possible valuations of the debtor business as a going concern when a plan is to be confirmed against one or several dissenting classes of claimants (via “cram-down”)

Judges may be exposed to conflicting expert valuations and have to make

far-reaching policy choices of an economic nature.

issues business rescues iv policy choice
Issues: Business Rescues IV Policy Choice
  • If minimal strains on the legitimacy and credibility of the court system are desired, primary reliance should be on liquidation type rescues. They involve courts least in the investive issues (A: who should carry on the debtor business?) and the distributional issues of rescue (B: who gets which portion of the reorganization „pie“). Issue A is taken care of by market forces, and issue B by the distribution scheme and priorities set out in the law.
  • Reorganization type rescues may be needed only for public ownership enterprises, utilities, or enterprises with regional or special societal importance where a change of control may be undesirable or impossible.
issues post confirmation jurisdiction in reorganizations
Issues: Post-Confirmation Jurisdictionin Reorganizations
  • In some systems, such as the U.S., bankruptcy judges retain jurisdiction over the debtor long after a plan has been confirmed, e.g., for plan implementation and modification of an approved plan.
  • During this phase judges will often have to deal with economic and social pressures to make a success of the reorganization.
  • Post-confirmation jurisdiction ought not to exceed a maximum time (of say, 3 years) and be reserved for cases where supervised plan implementation is agreed by requisite creditor vote in the plan (German law).
issues bankruptcy related litigation
Issues: Bankruptcy Related Litigation
  • Bankruptcy may occasion complex civil and commercial litigation (avoidance; adjudication of claims contested as to existence, amount, priority, or secured status; director and parent corporation liability; employee rights).
  • Some systems (such as the German) provide for jurisdiction of the general civil, commercial, or labor courts for such matters. Others, such as the U.S., acknowledge an overriding jurisdiction of the bankruptcy courts.
  • The need for close coordination with case administration, for speed and consistent decisions in parallel cases appears to militate for broad jurisdiction of bankruptcy courts, especially in countries with less experienced general or commercial court systems.
judicial liability and social responsibility
Judicial Liability and Social Responsibility
  • In matters requiring judicial dispute resolution, judges should be exempt from all civil liability except where they have been found guilty of a criminal offence (such as corruption, intentional breach of the law etc.) in a final judgment (German system).
  • To the extent that judges are involved in case administration and economic choices it may be possible to impose civil liability on judges for intentional or grossly negligent wrongs; but primary liability should be that of the State/Government, and judicial liability be enforced only via a recourse action by the government (German system).
  • If judges are, by appropriate legislation, allotted minimal responsibility for case administration and for economic decisions, the judiciary will be protected best from undue social pressures and criticism.
thank you
Thank you!

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