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Insolvency Law

Expert guidance on all aspects of corporate and personal insolvency

09 JUL 2009

Insolvency Service - new document - Annual Review of Insolvency Practitioner Regulation, June 2009

The Insolvency Service (IS) have published a new document entitled: "Annual Review of Insolvency Practitioner Regulation, June 2009." The 24 page document makes fascinating reading. This is a new publication, i.e. this sort of IS publication has not appeared before. The remit and the proposed outcomes are briefly stated in Mr Stephen Speed's foreword. He notes:

"...Insolvency practice is a regulated profession and this Review, which we intend to publish annually, sets out the essential features of the regulatory regime that governs insolvency practitioners; what the public and businesses can expect from it; and what The Insolvency Service and the other regulators are doing to improve it."

There are a number of interesting elements to the review. The first relates to the IS's authorisation of Insolvency Practitioners (IPs - as opposed to regulation of IPs). The review notes:

"In 2009-10, The Service will put its authorisation function at arm’s length from its overarching regulatory function."

The second interesting element of the review relates to the "Hampton Review." The review notes:
"2.1 The “Hampton” review of insolvency practitioner regulation
During December 2008 the activities of The Insolvency Service in relation to insolvency practitioner regulation were reviewed by an independent team consisting of two peer reviewers from other regulators and a member of the Better Regulation Executive, a directorate within BIS responsible for promulgating the following principles of better regulation:

  • Proportionate: regulators should only intervene when necessary. Remedies should be
    appropriate to the risk posed, and costs identified and minimised.
  • Accountable: regulators must be able to justify decisions, and be subject to public scrutiny.
  • Consistent: rules and standards must be joined up and implemented fairly.
  • Transparent: regulators should be open, and keep regulations simple and user friendly.
  • Targeted: regulation should be focused on the problem, and minimise side effects.

As a part of the review, stakeholders such as the RPBs, the Association of Business Recovery Professionals (R3), the IPC and creditor representatives were invited to contribute their views on the appropriateness and effectiveness of the insolvency practitioner regulation functions undertaken by The Insolvency Service. The report is expected to be published by the Better Regulation Executive in July 2009."

The third interesting element relates to sanctions against IPs. These include:

  • Licence restricted: 11
  • Licence withdrawn: 3
  • Undertakings:  33
  • Plans for improvements:  42
  • Regulatory penalty: 3

In terms of public reassurance the review is of particular note as it outlines the sanctions taken against various named IPs. These will be the subject matter of a future blog on comparative treatment of IPs amongst the various RPBs for professional misconduct.

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