The Cork Report Archive - 2012/2013 Fund Raising Project
'Our professional duties consist, not merely in activity and in publication upon some practical part of professional knowledge, which repay themselves; but in availing ourselves of every opportunity to visit and strengthen the route and foundation of the science itself'.
(from: Montagu, B. Some Observations upon the Bill for the Improvement of the Bankrupt Laws. Butterworths, London, 1822, at page 73.)
When Professor Muir Hunter QC passed away in 2008 [See Hunter's obituaries in: The Daily Telegraph, 22 October 2008); The Guardian, Wednesday 26 November 2008) his family gifted his insolvency law and policy related papers to the Muir Hunter Museum of Bankruptcy at Kingston University Law School.
The papers represent a goldmine of insolvency information, particularly in relation to the famous Cork Report and the subsequent Insolvency Act 1986. [Report of the Review Committee, Insolvency Law and Practice. (Cmnd 8558, 1982). (hereafter Cork Report). On the background, history and process of the 1970s insolvency reform see: Carruthers, BG & Halliday, TC. Rescuing business: the making of corporate bankruptcy law in England and the United States. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998. On the contribution of Cork see: Finch, V. The Measures of Insolvency Law  OJLS, 227-251, at Part 1, and: Fletcher, IF. The Genesis of Modern Insolvency Law - an Odyssey of Law Reform  JBL pp.365-376, who states, "the Cork Report constitutes a phenomenal and epoch-making achievement and a major landmark in the evolution of our insolvency law." (p.371). See also: Hare, DM & Milman, D. Corporate Insolvency: The Cork Committee Proposals - 1 (1983) Solicitors Journal, vol.127, pp.230-232, and: Goode, R. The Death of Insolvency Law (1980) Co. Law, vol.1, no.3, pp.123-129. See also Sir Kenneth Cork's exposition on "Reforming the Insolvency Laws" in: Cork, K (with Hugh Barty-King). Cork on Cork - Sir Kenneth Cork takes stock. Macmillan, London, 1988, at Chapter 10.] It is no exaggeration to state that Professor Hunter kept nearly all of the papers from his time (and beyond) as a member of the Cork Committee. These include unpublished position papers drafted by committee members, discussion documents, submissions to the committee and much, much more. [Some of the unpublished material in the archive has already been used to help inform modern policy making. See: Tribe, J. & Hunt, S. Insolvency bonds: history, policy and substance. (2012) Insolvency Intelligence, 25(3), pp. 6-13.]
We are hoping to raise enough money to be able to catalogue and digitise the entire collection of papers.
Please help us with this endeavour as this will help strengthen the route and science of insolvency law as an academic discipline. If you would like to make a donation please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our JustGiving site will be available soon! Watch the blog for details.
Dr John Tribe
Kingston Law School, Kingston University
Statements of Support for our Cork Report Archive Fund Raising Activity
Dr Stephen Baister (Chief Bankruptcy Registrar of the High Court):
"Insolvency is not a very thrilling or amusing subject". So said Lord Mishcon according to Hansard (15 January 1985). That may be so, but bankruptcy has played an important part in our history since the 16th century. The Muir Hunter Museum of Bankruptcy is unique in its effort to record the legal history of this important aspect of our law and economy. Please support it if you can."
Professor Ian F. Fletcher (UCL):
"The preservation, and proper maintenance, of this archive is a matter of front-line importance in the interests of enabling both scholars and practitioners to have access to this unique collection of material concerning the formative processes underlying our modern insolvency law. The Cork archive will be a vital resource for anyone investigating the underlying rationale, and policy considerations, which culminated in the Committee's final recommendations."
Professor David Milman (Lancaster University):
"For historians of insolvency law two great names stand out: Cork and Muir Hunter. An archive that preserves and illuminates the insights of these historic figures is of international importance for present and future scholars."
Dr Hamish Anderson (Norton Rose solicitors):
"The report of the Cork Committee remains fundamental to understanding the policy underlying the '86 Act and this project preserves a unique opportunity to go behind its conclusions through the working papers of one of its best known members."
Professor Andrew Keay (University of Leeds):
"In preserving all of the policy documents that led to the Cork Report, Professor Muir Hunter QC has bequeathed a fantastic archive for insolvency law scholarship. I wholeheartedly support Dr Tribe's project to catalogue and digitise these materials. The sooner they are available for scholars the better."
Mr Stephen Hunt (Griffins Insolvency Practitioners):
"Looking back at these important documents from the recent past, it makes us appreciate that history is happening now. I hope that the archive grows with contributions relating to the work of today for future scholars to examine and debate."
Stephen Cork (Managing Partner, Cork Gully):
"For four generations the Cork family have been involved in the administration of insolvent estates. Sir Kenneth Cork (as he later became known) was chairman of the Cork Committee, which published a major review of insolvency law in the UK, known as the Cork Report in 1982. This prompted a change in primary legislation and the subsequent introduction of the Insolvency Act 1986. As a firm we are delighted to be able to support this initiative to archive and digitise Professor Muir Hunter QC's Cork Report working papers. These documents provide an unparalleled glimpse into insolvency law and policy development."
Professor Harry Rajak (Emeritus Professor of Law, University of Sussex Law School):