Advanced Business Law Conference – the major insolvency reforms: 3 October 2017

I am presenting at the Advanced Business Law Conference at the College of Law in Sydney on Tuesday 3 October 2017.

My topic is what the program describes as the Major Personal and Corporate Insolvency Reforms in 2017-2018, described as being “the most extensive reform of insolvency law in a decade”. That statement may in fact understate the reforms that will be in place by then and those still coming through.

After some years of debate, the harmonisation of insolvency law processes in the Corporations Act and the Bankruptcy Act is being implemented under the Insolvency Law Reform Act 2016, which will be fully in place by 1 September 2017.

This means that there will be common processes for meetings of creditors, remuneration claims, communications and reporting, and powers of the court. Both ASIC and AFSA have greater powers, and there are new ad hoc registration and disciplinary committees and a system of co-regulation of trustees and liquidators by the law and accounting bodies. A significant substantive reform is the new power of a trustee or liquidator to sell voidable transaction claims.

Also, we can also anticipate 2018 starting off with new ‘safe harbour’ laws giving protection to company directors from liability for insolvent trading, with legal encouragement to seek appropriate advice about their failing business, including legal advice; laws preventing contractors relying on ‘ipso facto’ termination clauses in contracts with insolvent companies; and laws reducing the 3 year period of bankruptcy down to one year. Unlawful phoenix company conduct may also be the subject of reforms.

Other insolvency related reforms involve administrative law, receiverships, family law and bankruptcy, evidence of service of documents, and competition and tax law.  

The novel legal drafting in these reforms will call for clear legal advice to be given to insolvency practitioner clients and to creditors, directors and financiers.

The keynote address will be given by the Hon Justice Julie Ward, Chief Judge in Equity of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. The Chair will be Dr Allison Stanfield of SG Legal.

Following sessions cover digital disruption in business law, how people make decisions and what influences choice, the High Court’s approach to the construction of contracts, Personal Property Securities Act reforms in 2017-2018, and the law of penalties.

The conference is being held at the College of Law, Level 16, 111 Elizabeth St Sydney.  Full details are here.



Michael Murray

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