Bankruptcy Litigation

The Gorsuch Nomination: The Return of the Business Friendly Court?

 

President Donald Trump nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch, a federal appellate judge on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, to fill the Supreme Court seat of Justice Antonin Scalia. Our Supreme Court and appellate team, led by partner Bob Loeb, took a look at Judge Gorsuch’s track record as a judge on key business issues like securities litigation, arbitration and bankruptcy, to speculate on his future as a potential justice. To read the full article, please click here.

Orrick’s Marc Levinson Compares Chapter 9 to Chapter 11 for the Federal Judicial Center Website

 

Orrick Restructuring Senior Counsel Marc Levinson is one of the chapter 9 experts assisting in the preparation of a chapter 9 manual for bankruptcy judges and court clerks that has been posted on the website of the Federal Judicial Center, an arm of the United States Courts which educates federal judges.  Among other things, the manual will discuss the differences between chapter 9 and chapter 11 bankruptcies. The below video comparing chapter 9 v. chapter 11 was prepared at the FJC’s request that Marc draw upon his experience representing the cities of Stockton and Vallejo, California, in their chapter 9 cases. It has been posted on the FJC’s website, but note that access to the video on that website is restricted to judges. READ MORE

Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument in Jevic on Whether Distribution of Settlement Proceeds May Depart From Statutory Priority Scheme

 

The United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments on December 7, 2016 in Czyzewski v. Jevic Holding Corp. The case poses a question that has divided the Second, Third, and Fifth Circuits: Whether a bankruptcy court may authorize the distribution of settlement proceeds in a way that departs from the statutory priority scheme in the Bankruptcy Code, including through a so-called “structured settlement.” READ MORE

Sixth Circuit Finds Bankruptcy Court Cannot Force City to Provide Services in Chapter 9

On November 14, 2016, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held that courts in chapter 9 cases lack authority to order a municipal debtor to provide services to its constituents. Affirming the bankruptcy court’s dismissal of customers’ claims arising from the termination of their water service by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, the Sixth Circuit held that section 904 of the Bankruptcy Code prohibits a chapter 9 court from entering orders that “interfere” with a municipality’s “political [and] governmental powers.” In re City of Detroit, Mich., No. 15-2236, 2016 WL 6677715 (6th Cir. Nov. 14, 2016). READ MORE

Third Circuit Departs from Momentive and Reinstates EFIH Noteholder Make-Whole Claims Causing Uncertainty over EFH’s Ability to Exit Bankruptcy

Recently, the Third Circuit reversed decisions issued by the Delaware Bankruptcy and District Courts and permitted first and second lien noteholders of Energy Future Intermediate Holding Company LLC and EFIH Finance Inc. to receive payment of a make-whole premium. In re Energy Future Holdings Corp., No. 16-1351 (3d Cir. Nov. 17, 2016).  The decision, which is largely grounded in New York law, departs from recent controversial decisions issued by the Bankruptcy Court and District Court for the Southern District of New York in the Momentive bankruptcy, which we have previously discussed here and here.  In Momentive, the courts reached the opposite conclusion on substantially similar facts.  In Momentive, the courts reached the opposite conclusion on substantially similar facts.  In addition to creating a split between the Third Circuit and the Southern District of New York, the ruling creates uncertainty regarding the ability for the debtors in the long-running EFH bankruptcy to confirm their proposed chapter 11 plan. READ MORE

Orrick’s Marc Levinson Publishes Chapter 11 v. Chapter 9 Checklist in Practical Law

 

In a recent article for Practical Law Bankruptcy, Restructuring Senior Counsel Marc Levinson prepared a comparison chart providing an overview of the major facets of a Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy and comparing them to those of a traditional Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The Chart examines, among other crucial issues, commencement of the case, eligibility requirements, case administration, preference actions and plans. To read the full chart, please click here.

Supreme Court to Resolve Circuit Split Over Structured Dismissals

 

The Supreme Court again will be addressing the powers of bankruptcy courts. At the end of the term, the Court granted certiorari in Czyzewski v. Jevic Holding Corp. to decide whether a bankruptcy court may authorize the distribution of settlement proceeds in a way that violates the statutory priority scheme in the Bankruptcy Code.  No. 15-649, 2016 WL 3496769 (S. Ct. June 28, 2016).  The Supreme Court is expected to address this fundamental bankruptcy issue sometime early next year. READ MORE

Indah Kiat – A Scheme Pulped

On 12 February 2016 Snowden J handed down his judgment in Indah Kiat International Finance Company B.V. [2016] EWHC 246 (Ch). Indah Kiat International Finance Company B.V. (“Indah Kiat”), part of the global Asia Pulp & Paper Group (one of the world’s largest pulp and paper manufacturers), applied for an order convening a meeting of scheme creditors to consider and, if thought fit, approve a proposed scheme of arrangement (the “Scheme”) under Part 26 of the Companies Act 2006. One creditor, APPIO, opposed the Scheme on various grounds and in this hearing sought an adjournment on the basis that insufficient notice was given to the creditors of the convening hearing.

The Indah Kiat judgment neatly follows a similar judgment of Snowden J in Van Gansewinkel Groep BV [2015] EWCG 2151 (Ch) only a few months earlier. In this case Snowden J took the opportunity to review the current law on jurisdiction relating to schemes of arrangement, and, arguably, to raise the jurisdictional hurdle. He noted that in recent years, schemes of arrangement have been increasingly used to restructure the financial obligations of overseas companies that do not have their centre of main interest or an establishment or any significant assets in England, and stated that companies seeking approval of a scheme would be well advised “to ensure that greater detail is provided, both in the explanatory statement and in the evidence before the court”. Additionally, and more importantly for Indah Kiat, he commented on the judgment in re Telewest Communications plc (No 2) [2005] 1 BCLC 772 that the court will not generally sanction a scheme if it finds a “blot” in the scheme such that the scheme will not have the effect that the company and creditors intend. This is key in the underlying message of Snowden J’s Indah Kiat judgment.

Whilst schemes of arrangement have become increasingly popular to compromise creditors’ claims in a pragmatic manner which may not be available in the jurisdiction of incorporation of the relevant debtor, the judgments in Van Gansewinkel and, more specifically, in Indah Kiat, make it clear that the English courts will not compromise the integrity of this highly effective restructuring tool where the parties invoking the court’s jurisdiction act other than with the “utmost candour”.

READ MORE

Not So Fast – Supreme Court Holds Prepetition Fraudulent Transfer Precludes Post-Petition Discharge in Husky International

One of the goals of the Bankruptcy Code is to provide a debtor with a fresh start. The discharge of prepetition debts at the conclusion of a bankruptcy case is one of the most important ways to attain this fresh start.  On May 16, 2016, the Supreme Court made it harder for debtors to obtain a fresh start by broadening an exception to discharge.

Section 523(a)(2)(A) of the Bankruptcy Code provides that an individual debtor is not discharged from any debt “for money, property [or] services … to the extent obtained by false pretenses, a false representation, or actual fraud[.]” Circuits split as to whether actual fraud under Section 523(a)(2)(A) requires an affirmative misrepresentation; the Fifth Circuit had held that this was a necessary element to prevent discharge, but the Seventh Circuit had held that “actual fraud” encompassed a broader range of behaviors.

The Supreme Court resolved this split, rejecting the Fifth Circuit’s narrow interpretation and finding that the term “actual fraud” does not need to include an affirmative misrepresentation by the debtor. With this broader reading, debtors will be unable to discharge prepetition debts where there is evidence that they inappropriately siphoned of their assets prior to filing for bankruptcy. Husky Int’l Elecs., Inc. v. Ritz, No. 15-145, 2016 WL 2842452 (U.S. May 16, 2016). READ MORE

Orrick Ranked Among Top Ten Bankruptcy Law Firms

The Deal has once again recognized Orrick as a Top Ten Bankruptcy Law Firm in its Q1 2016 Bankruptcy League Tables. After being named to the top ten in each quarter last year, Orrick extended the streak by gaining one spot in the rankings (now #7).

During a busy Q1 period, we advised several clients on a diverse blend of bankruptcy matters, with a particular emphasis in the areas of distressed energy, municipal debt and cross-border restructurings.

The Deal’s Bankruptcy League Tables are the industry’s only league tables focused solely on active bankruptcy cases. These rankings are compiled on a quarterly basis through comprehensive deal intelligence to identify the top law, crisis management, investment, and non-investment firms and professionals involved in bankruptcy transactions throughout the United States.