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Insolvency Law

Expert guidance on all aspects of corporate and personal insolvency

25 JAN 2012

BIS House of Commons Select Committee on the Insolvency Service

The first BIS Select Committee on the work of the Insolvency Service took place yesterday. The committee heard evidence from: 

  • Frances Coulson, President, R3
  • David Kerr, Chief Executive, Insolvency Practitioners Association
  • Vernon Soare, Executive Director, Institute of Chartered Accountants for England and Wales
  • John Milsom, Chairman, Joint Insolvency Committee
  • Tony Butcher, President, Prospect (Insolvency Branch) - a Union representative. 

From an IP perspective I am not sure the first hearing was a great success. The MPs seemed to be taking a rather critical approach on occasion. The chair did however seem a bit mechanical in delivery, almost as if the subject was of little interest! He also seemed to move discussion along when the panelists had more to say. Time is of course precious but surely these important issues should be discussed in full. Highlights include:

- an interesting discussion of the superabundance of RPBs. I am not sure that geography and history are good justifications for the number of RPBs.

- a critique by Frances Coulson of the Insolvency Service's activity on directors disqualification. 

- multiple hat tips to Dr Sandra Frisby's research on pre-packs (the panelists seem to have overlooked Professor Vanessa Finch's work on pre-packs). John Milsom noted that pre-pack practice has moved on from Dr Frisby's work. Sandra made this very point some years ago at an Insolvency Service research seminar. 

- some phoenixism critique with a link to the Insolvency Service's supposed lack of effective directors' disqualification activity. 

- a statement that the IPC is being abolished. 

- a discussion of apathetic creditors - Berle & Means analogies are made but with no reference to the learned Professors. 

- an interesting discussion of pre and post appointment conflicts of interests - what we might call the Private Eye problem. 

- an interesting critique of Chapter 11 bankruptcy by John Milsom - he calls the american procedure "expensive." John Milsom does not seem to be a fan of debtor in possession either but does highlight the meritous elements of the procedure. 

- a wish list of change from the respective panelists. This seems to be quite short. These changes included: fixing of administration expenses; an updating of the rules including electronic communication improvements; greater engagement with creditors and creditor education; and, removing duplication in the rules. A very interesting call was made for evidence based policy making. 

You can listen to the committee hearing here. It would be interesting to see the panelists' written evidence to the committee. 

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