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Model Behaviour: the Australian version of America’s Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Scheme – Key Points

By Jodie Rodrigues, solicitor at Matthews Folbigg in the Insolvency, Restructuring and Debt Recovery Group

Part 1: The Key Points

On 24 September 2020, the latest instalment in Australia’s insolvency reforms was announced. These reforms have been branded “the most significant reforms to Australia’s insolvency framework in 30 years”.

And yet the plan, apparently, is to have these reforms in place in 3 months.

Under the Morrison government’s proposal, Australia would adopt a framework modeled on parts of Chapter 11 of America’s Bankruptcy Code. The proposed system would provide two alternative forms of insolvency administration for small businesses with liabilities of up to $1,000,000:

  1. A ‘debtor in possession’ restructuring plan, allowing thirty-five business days to obtain creditor approval for a debt restructure; and
  2. A simplified form of corporate liquidation, is restructure is not possible.

Restructuring Process

From 21 January 2021, small businesses with liabilities of less than $1,000,000 will have access to a debtor-controlled restructuring process in which there will be:
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COVID-19 and Corporate Insolvency: What should directors do?

By Andrew Hack, Solicitor, and Stephen Mullette, Principal, of Matthews Folbigg Lawyers, in our Insolvency, Restructuring and Debt Recovery Group.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, insolvent trading laws have been relaxed. But this does not mean there is no risk to directors. In reality the breathing space has simply been extended to allow directors to work out a solution. In our previous blog in this series, we discussed the obligations on directors when their companies are or might become insolvent. This blog explores what directors should do about it.

Voluntary Administration

Company directors who fear that a company is or may become insolvent and who might not be protected by the amendments should give consideration to appointing a voluntary administrator (“VA”). Appointing a VA puts in place a moratorium on enforcement action by creditors while the VA investigates the affairs of the company and reports to creditors, including even certain enforcement action by lenders and landlords. Further, director exposure to liability for insolvent trading ceases from that day forward, while the possibility of the company continuing to exist is kept alive.
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