Following are this week’s summaries of the Court of Appeal for Ontario for the week of November 14, 2022.
It is common for construction project owners to finance projects through multiple mortgages, especially in times of rising construction costs. However, when an insolvency situation arises, holdback priority claims from contractors and subcontractors are particularly complex when there are multiple building mortgages involved. The Ontario Superior Court (Commercial List) provided new clarity in this regard in its April 29, 2022 decision in BCIMC Construction Fund Corp. et al.
This week’s TGIF considers In the matter of Nicolas Criniti Pty Ltd (In Liquidation)  NSWSC 1149 which examined the intersection between the winding up provisions in the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) and the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act 1999 (NSW).
WHITE PAPER An Update on Insolvency in the Australian Construction Industry The construction sector in Australia has long been affected by insolvency and broader liquidity issues. In the last year, construction companies accounted for 26% of businesses that entered into insolvency, and insolvencies in the construction sector more than doubled. This year, contractors have been further squeezed by inflation, supply chain issues and labour market shortages. As the federal government has wound back its COVID-19 economic stimulus packages, further collapses seem inevitable.
The Need for Reform
Insolvency figures bring into stark light the reality of business in the construction industry. In the last financial year, 13% of companies entering external administration in the Northern Territory were from the construction sector.
Significant causes of contractor failure include inadequate cash flow, poor strategic management of the business, inadequate contract administration skills and a lack of working capital to see a project or a dispute through.
The Supreme Court of Spain has recognized it its Judgment dated September 5th, 2012, the lack of consent in a work contract on which one of the parties applied for the bankruptcy proceedings 10 days after such contract was entered by both parties.
The parties entered into a contract for execution of work by virtue of which the company that few days later applied for the insolvency proceedings, was committed to carry out the works of a building under construction.
Once the bankruptcy proceeding was started, each party issued a claim within the insolvency proceeding.
In New South Wales (NSW), unlike in Victoria, claimants in liquidation have been able to make claims under Security of Payments Acts (SOPA). This has been recently reaffirmed in the case of Seymour Whyte Constructions Pty Ltd v Ostwald Bros Pty Ltd (In Liquidation)  NSWCA 11 (Seymour), where the court doubled-down on this position and further explained why the NSW position differs from the position taken by the Victorian Court of Appeal in the infamous Faade Treatment Engineering Pty Ltd (in liq) v Brookfield Multiplex Constructions Pty Ltd  VSCA 247 (Faade).
When creditors are left holding the bag after providing valuable goods or services to a company that files for bankruptcy relief, they often feel misused and that an injustice has occurred. After all, they are legitimately owed money for their work or their product, and the debtor has in effect been unjustly enriched because it received something for nothing. Unsecured creditors do not have recourse to collateral, and typically have to wait in line to receive cents on the dollar.
On 15 January 2018, Carillion, the UK’s second-largest builder and one of the Government’s largest contractors, was placed into compulsory liquidation and the Official Receiver was appointed as liquidator, with Michael John Andrew Jervis, David James Kelly, David Christian Chubb, Peter Dickens, David Matthew Hammond and Russell Downs of PwC being appointed as special managers to assist in the wind down of the business and realisation of its assets.
In an opinion by Judge Roth issued on March 30, 2017, the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held that two suppliers who had sold electrical materials to a bankrupt contractor had violated the automatic stay by asserting a construction lien against the owner of the development where the contractor had installed the materials supplied.