As co-chairs, we thank all of the members of ABI’s International Committee for their continued support and involvement with the committee during this pandemic-dominated year. We also extend a warm welcome to our new members and encourage you to reach out to us or International Committee Membership Chair Kenneth Kraft (Dentons Canada; Toronto) to discuss ways to get more involved with the International Committee.
On Jan. 1, 2021, the Dutch Act on the Confirmation of Private Plans (hereafter referred to by its Dutch acronym, “WHOA,” or the “Dutch Scheme”) entered into force. It represents a robust and flexible restructuring framework. This brief article provides a summary of the Dutch Scheme and an update about the first published cases involving the scheme.
Dutch Scheme Inspired by U.S. Chapter 11 Reorganization Plan
The COVID-19 crisis has encouraged many countries to amend their bankruptcy laws. In many cases, these amendments took place temporarily — especially during the hibernation phase of the pandemic. In other countries, however, the pandemic has led to permanent changes in their insolvency legislations. More importantly, the COVID-19 crisis has encouraged many countries around the world to reassess the desirability of their insolvency and restructuring frameworks.
In recent times, global businesses based all over the world have often turned to chapter 11 or the English scheme of arrangement to implement their debt restructurings, often due to the failure of local restructuring and insolvency laws to provide an adequate or optimal restructuring solution.
In Canadian proceedings, it had previously been common for assets of the debtor to be conveyed to a purchaser through the granting of a vesting order. Normally, the court supervising the relevant insolvency proceeding in approving the transaction would issue an order that title to the purchased assets would vest in the purchaser “free and clear” of the claims of the vendors’ creditors. Instead, the purchase price proceeds would stand in place of the purchased assets.
The term “silver lining” comes from Milton’s Comus, in which the silver lining is the light of the moon shining behind a cloud. It is very difficult to find a silver lining in the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused more than 500,000 deaths in the U.S.
2020 was undoubtedly a massive challenge for all countries, but it was especially dramatic for Brazil, which has been severely hit by coronavirus outbreak. Among the most affected countries, Brazil is fighting one of the biggest battles of its history, with a little over 10 million cases so far and a case-fatality rate of 2.4%.
Author’s Note: Australia has a debtor-in-possession insolvency system administered by insolvency practitioners.
The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law Working Group V has been working on a simplified insolvency regime for six sessions because “[m]icro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) (MSEs) constitute the majority of businesses in economies around the world.” Its efforts are aimed at ameliorating the effects of rigid insolvency schemes that stifle the efforts of small business enterprises to reorganize.