European Insolvency Laws

Recast EU Insolvency Regulation Comes into Force


On 26 June 2017, the Recast EU Insolvency Regulation (Council Regulation (EC) No. 2015/848) came into force. It will apply to all relevant insolvency proceedings (although existing and ongoing proceedings will continue to be bound by the EU Insolvency Regulation (Council Regulation (EC) No. 1346/2000) (the “EIR”)). The Recast EU Insolvency Regulation will have direct effect in all EU member states (except Denmark).”

The Recast EU Insolvency Regulation is an update of the EIR following ten years of insolvency practice and experience since the EIR’s implementation. Largely, it represents a codification of well-established insolvency practice developed across the EU under the EIR however, it also introduces new innovative steps which, it is hoped, mark a step forward in light of learnings under the EIR to address perceived issues or “gaps” in existing legislation. READ MORE

Recent EU Insolvency Regulation

The EC Regulations on Insolvency Proceedings (the “EIR“) came into force throughout the European Union (the “EU“) (except Denmark) on May 31, 2002 with the purpose of setting out the rules governing where in the EU insolvency proceedings should be opened, which law applies to the proceedings and to ensure that such proceedings are recognized across the EU. EIR provided that a company should file in the jurisdiction where its center of main interest or “COMI” is located and that there was a rebuttable presumption that this is the jurisdiction of incorporation. This led to a number of EU groups filing in the jurisdiction of the head office – for example the Rover Group had many offices around the EU but its insolvency process was run out of the UK. In addition groups frequently file where it is apparent that an insolvency procedure in a particular jurisdiction may have some advantages, for example the Eurotunnel group which has English and French companies which operate the tunnel filed in France to take advantage of a French insolvency procedure. It is often the case that European groups avail themselves of English scheme and administration procedures. In over 10 years of insolvency practice in the EU the benefits of this experience has led to a new Recast Regulation on Insolvency 2015/848 (the “Recast Regulation“), which was published by the European Parliament and Council on May 20, 2015. It came into force on June 26, 2015 and applies to relevant insolvency proceedings from June 26, 2017. This client alert addresses the key features of the Recast Regulation:

  1. a broadened scope, covering a range of commercial insolvency proceedings such as the Italian reorganization plan procedure which were not previously within the ambit of the regulation;
  2. a framework for group insolvency proceedings, which will allow for the coordination of insolvency procedures at an EU level;
  3. COMI – there is no mention of the controversial two year look-back period initially proposed by the European Parliament, but the presumption that COMI is in the place of the registered office will not apply if the registered office has shifted in the preceding three months;
  4. interconnected insolvency registers – national insolvency registers may be accessed on the European e-Justice Portal; and
  5. provisions which allow the officeholder in main proceedings to give an undertaking to foreign creditors to avoid secondary proceedings in other member states being opened.

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European Revolution vs. English Evolution

This client alert will focus on three of the key recent cases of the past six months, each of which features the use of English law restructuring tools for non-English companies. Whilst the wave of recent restructurings has slowed in recent times given the uptick in the European economy, these cases are likely to be cited as precedents in the future and the case law developments will be of assistance in the event there is rise in the number of restructurings which may be expected as interest rates rise in the next few years.

In the decade leading up to the Great Recession which commenced in 2008, many European jurisdictions took significant measures to update their antiquated insolvency regimes. The Spanish updated their 1898 insolvency laws in 2003, the Italians updated their 1942 bankruptcy laws in 2005, the French updated their 1984 laws in 2005, the Germans amended their regime in 1999, and finally the UK made radical changes in 2002. The effectiveness of the reforms were mixed and when the stresses of the Great Recession collided with the new regimes, a second wave of reforms, forged by the reality of experience, occurred in every major European country save the UK. In recent years a dichotomy has arisen between European radical change and English gradualism when it comes to restructuring law practice.  Read More.