What are your views on the new moratorium and restructuring provisions in the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act?

Insolvency Support Services (ISS) is conducting research among stakeholders in the UK insolvency market on the new moratorium and restructuring provisions in the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act.

We are gathering views on the likely usage of the provisions and the potential benefits as well as the reasons why they might not be used.

Please take part in the survey by clicking here before 24 July 2020.

If this link does not work for you, please cut and paste this url into your browser: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/ISSyourview

This survey should take less than five minutes to complete. All responses will be treated confidentially.

All respondents will receive a summary of the findings and be entered into a prize draw for the chance to win a free ISS webinar as well as a £50 voucher for an online retail store of the winner’s choice.

Please note that the survey will be temporarily unavailable from 8.00 am–8.00 pm on 3 July.

If you have any questions, please email enquiries@insolvencysupportservices.com

Webinar – Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020: An Introduction

In our One Hour Series webinar Technical Short: Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020: An Introduction on 17 July we will summarise the changes and how they might be applied by the profession. Click here to book.

Monitor’s fees under the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act

Alison Curry examines the detail around monitor’s fees in the new moratorium provisions.

The new moratorium process outlined in the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act has now come into effect, bringing a very welcome 40 or more days’ breathing space for companies while they and their professional advisers consider their restructuring options.

Thanks to campaigning from the profession, in particular R3, the Act has seen some shift from the original proposals first outlined in 2017, not least that the monitors of these moratoria must be licensed insolvency practitioners. Had this not been the case, it could have seriously eroded the vital role that insolvency professionals play in corporate restructuring, and we should be grateful to all those who campaigned.

The perennial issue

We will be constructing document packs and checklists now that the legislation has come into force and rolling out our compliance support and training offering. But as with any new legislation, the devil is invariably in the detail, and some of the detail raises concern, particularly around the perennially thorny issue of IP fees.

The monitor must be an IP and the monitor is expressly stated to be an officer of the court. However, while SIP 9 currently applies to “all forms of proceedings under the Insolvency Act”, it expressly refers to the fees of an insolvency office holder, and a monitor may not fall into that category. SIP 9 could usefully be amended to clarify this ambiguity and the current consultation on the revision of this SIP would be an opportunity to do so.

But even if the monitor’s fees are to be subject to SIP 9, what of their fees for advising the company and forming their opinion, prior to their formal appointment as monitor? Here the position becomes less clear.

Entering the moratorium gives the company a payment holiday from most of its pre-moratorium debts, subject to some exceptions. A key exclusion for obvious reasons is the remuneration and expenses of the monitor. However, the provision goes on to state that “the monitor’s remuneration or expenses does not include remuneration in respect of anything done by a proposed monitor before the moratorium begins”; so it would seem that any pre-appointment charges in relation to formulating the very opinion that kickstarts the moratorium are potentially subject to the payment holiday. IPs will, therefore, need to ensure that their engagement letters are very clear about what exactly the monitor’s fees include.

There are then restrictions on the company in making payments during the moratorium period in respect of pre-moratorium debts which are subject to a holiday, to the greater of £5,000 or 1% of its debts, subject to the monitor giving their permission for higher amounts to be paid. Could this place IPs in a rather conflicted position in giving permission to discharge their own pre-appointment costs?

Super-priority

But what if the monitor’s fees aren’t paid at all? The newly inserted sections 174A and SchB1 para 64A give super-priority to moratorium debts (i.e. those incurred during the moratorium period) and pre-moratorium debts for which no payment holiday is granted (i.e. the monitor’s fees). This super-priority applies in any succeeding winding up or administration proceedings commenced in the 12 weeks following the end of the moratorium. Further, a new s4A provides that any proposal for or modification to a CVA under which both the moratorium debts and the pre-moratorium debts for which the company did not have a payment holiday are to be paid other than in full is prohibited. So, it seems that the monitor will be paid ahead of any subsequently appointed office holder and IPs will need to check that there is not a prior monitor ranking ahead of them when taking a new instruction.

It appears that the only parties capable of challenging the monitor’s fees are a subsequently appointed liquidator or administrator and that challenge involves an application to court, which could be costly, and assumes an alternative IP in the succeeding role. Additionally, while the moratorium is in force, only the directors can instigate the winding up of the company or seek to appoint an administrator, so they get to choose their IP if that rescue proves impossible.

So, what if the monitor, on the evidence now available to them, changes their view about the viability of the company and recommends that the directors take steps to place it into liquidation or administration? The newly revised Ethics Code contains enhanced provisions around the potential conflicts presented by sequential appointments, but by no means precludes them. Nor does the new legislation.

Therefore, might we see the birth of the post-moratorium pre-pack, once it has become evident that the business, rather than the company can be saved, thereby justifying a shift from moratorium into administration? In some cases, no doubt this would be entirely justified, but the lack of external oversight in respect of fees may create the potential for abuse (both actual and perceived).

An amendment to the bill proposing the insertion of a new paragraph 74A into Schedule B1, requiring the use of the pre-pack pool in all pre-pack scenarios was withdrawn at committee stage, so it would seem that the pre-pack will survive unscathed into the new era of moratoria.  Much will rest on the shoulders of IPs to use these new tools responsibly, and in the longer term, more will rest on the shoulders of regulators to ensure that they do so.

What are your views on the new moratorium and restructuring provisions?

Click here to take part in our short survey. It should take less than five minutes to complete. As well as receiving a summary of the findings, you will be entered into a prize draw for the chance to win a free ISS webinar and a £50 voucher to an online retail store. The survey will end on 24 June 2020. Please note that the survey will be temporarily unavailable from 8.00 am–8.00 pm on 3 July.

First published in the June 2020 edition of RECOVERY NEWS and reproduced with the permission of R3 and GTI Media.

Webinar – Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020: An Introduction

In our One Hour Series webinar Technical Short: Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020: An Introduction on 17 July we will summarise the changes and how they might be applied by the profession. Click here to book.

Brand new Investigation and CDDA Checklist

We now have an Investigation and CDDA checklist, intended for use by IPs and their staff dealing with investigations into company director conduct, recovery and disqualification.  Applying across insolvent liquidation, administration and receivership, the checklist reflects current insolvency and CDDA legislation and all statutory references are hyperlinked to the relevant sections.  

The checklist retails for £500 (ex VAT).

There are two supporting online sessions: Pre-appointment advice to directors and SIP2 and Investigations, which normally retail for £50 (ex VAT) per participant.  One single use registration of each online session will be included with the purchase of the checklist for a limited period of time.  For two or more registrations to each session, please speak to us directly.

Coronavirus: An IP’s Risk and Response

Our job at Insolvency Support Services is to support your business. We have produced this short, free to view online presentation to assist and protect your practice as you deal with the exceptional circumstances of COVID-19.  We’ve considered the risks for your insolvency practice, and suggested practical responses and strategies for addressing these.

We have also set out below how we can assist you to meet these challenges. Please contact us at enquries@insolvencysupportservices.com if we can help in any way.

Documentation and Policies

Revised policies and protocols for contribution management

Working from home policy

Data Processing Impact Assessment

Data Protection policies and registers
Online Learning

AML2020 update

Compliance Awareness Online Learning covering: GDPR, AML, Ethics and Vulnerability – ideal introductions to staff new to insolvency or looking for a refresher of these subjects

Social Media on Appointment

Foundations in Insolvency
Outsourcing

Case Reviews

Case Closure

Case Progression and annual reports

Current Guidance  

For reference, following are links to the latest guidance from AiB and IPA.


AiB – COVID-19 – Contingency Arrangements

IPA – Insolvency Guidance Papers: Control of cases

Covid-19: Important information for IPA members

New Practice Management Workshops

Insolvency Support Services is delighted to launch our new Practice Management Workshops. A brand-new training stream, our workshops are designed to keep you up to date with your regulatory requirements. The programme will help you build or improve an efficient, robustly compliant insolvency practice in a cost-effective manner.

This stream is intended for insolvency practitioners (particularly sole practitioners or SME businesses), those considering obtaining their insolvency licence or setting up in practice, and anyone responsible for internal compliance processes or with an interest in the subject matter.

There are five workshops to attend or choose from, running in London, Birmingham and Edinburgh throughout 2020:

• Practical AML Policies and Procedures
• Financial Controls and Annual Compliance Statements
• Data Privacy and Cyber Crime Prevention Policies
• Avoiding Discrimination and Making Adjustments to Services
• PII, Bonding and Insurance considerations

Attend all five and pay for just four workshops or choose the workshops that meet your practice’s needs, in the venue that’s most convenient for you.

For full details of each workshop, click here.

CPD Learning Outcomes

• Keep up to date with current regulatory requirements
• Learn how to build or improve an efficient, robustly compliant practice
• Cost effectively implement statutory and regulatory requirements into your business
• Reduce your practice’s risk profile

Cost

Each half day workshop: £155 + VAT

Book three workshops and get our usual 50% discount on the third workshop: £387.50 + VAT

Book four workshops for just £527 + VAT

Book all five workshops and get five for the price of four: £620 + VAT

Bespoke In-House

We can also run this training in-house for your team. This is a cost-effective option for larger practices. Contact us to discuss available dates and requirements.

Half day course: £975 + VAT

Full day course: £1,950 + VAT

 

 

 

 

New Course: Anti-Money Laundering 2020 (including 5MLD changes)

Meet your annual AML training obligation with the ISS online Anti-Money Laundering Update. This short course is tailored specifically to those working in the insolvency profession and includes:

• An overview of the key changes to the above, by virtue of the 5th European Money Laundering Directive (5MLD)
• A refresher on key elements of the UK’s Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing regime, to include:
o Identifying risks
o Client Due Diligence / Enhanced Due Diligence
o Suspicious Activity Report

Knowledge checking

To reinforce learning values the course includes individual knowledge checking, so you can be assured that that each member of your team is alive to the risks they face in their role and can play their part in controlling these risks to your practice.

Individual certification

Each participant receives their own personalised certificate of completion in order that you can evidence that you have addressed the training requirements contained in the Money Laundering Regulations to your AML Supervisor.

This course is aimed at insolvency personnel and relevant support staff and is suitable for people with varying levels of pre-existing knowledge and technical ability.

Flexible completion and progress tracking

Individual registrations may commence at any time, to cater for work flows and new joiners within your firm. The time available for completion can be determined by you to suit your business (we recommend allowing around 4 weeks from registration) and to ensure everyone fully engages with their training, we will provide you with updates on participation and completion.

Cost

Individual – £75

5-person package – £200

20-person package – £700

50-person package – £1,500

All prices are exclusive of VAT at the prevailing rate.

Book Your Place

For enquiries and bookings, email: courses@insolvencysupportservices.com

Sample materials for Compliance Awareness Online Learning

You can preview the different types of content included in our new modular Compliance Awareness Online Learning course in our free samples. They will take just a few minutes to view or complete. Click here to access the free samples.

Instructional video content

Concise, comprehensive videos that you can watch, learning when and where is most convenient for you.

Reference materials and handouts

Downloadable documents to read and keep for future use and reference.

Knowledge checks

Multiple-choice knowledge checks to reinforce the value of the learning.

To sample the Ethics and Professional Standards Quick Quiz, register as a user with your name and email address.

Course Modules

Our Compliance Awareness Online Learning course is delivered in four modules, which you can mix and match to cater for your practice’s needs:

1.      Anti-money laundering (AML)

2.      Data privacy (GDPR)

3.      Vulnerability awareness

4.      Ethics and professional standards

Click here or below to watch our one-minute introductory video.

To find out more, click here, call 0845 601 7570 or email courses@insolvencysupportservices.com

 

 

ISS Training launches Compliance Awareness Online Learning

Insolvency Support Services’ training division, ISS Training, has launched an innovative new Compliance Awareness Online Learning course, adding an online learning platform to the firm’s course delivery methods.

The course is delivered in four topical modules: anti-money laundering, data privacy, vulnerability awareness, and ethics and professional standards.

Alison Curry, a director of Insolvency Support Services, commented: “We have developed this course in this format to assist insolvency practices manage compliance risks cost-effectively, meet their training obligations and protect their firm’s reputation.

These days insolvency practitioners and their teams must have a sound knowledge of practice areas beyond the scope of technical insolvency training.

There have been significant legislative changes in the areas of anti-money laundering and data protection, vulnerability awareness is high on the political agenda, and ethics and professional standards issues continue to dominate the complaints mailboxes of the regulators.

If all team members have a good grasp of the essentials of these subjects, they can flag issues with their managers as they arise. Failing to identify an issue in a timely manner presents a risk to the practice that can result in reputational damage to the practice and regulatory sanction for its insolvency practitioners.”

More information about Compliance Awareness Online Learning  including an introductory video and sample content, can be found here.

Managing risk in your practice

Effective compliance awareness

A frequent observation among our clients is how, increasingly, insolvency practice seems to be less about applying the Insolvency Act and rules and more about meeting other obligations; whether it be anti-money laundering (AML), GDPR, vulnerability awareness or the ever-evolving expectations of the regulators.

But ensuring you and your team have a good level of awareness of these peripheral aspects of our day-to-day work shouldn’t be seen as a distraction from the real task at hand – it is central to controlling risk presented to your business. And in some cases, such as AML and data protection, it is a legal requirement. Embedding a culture of compliance awareness, that is routinely acted upon throughout the firm within daily tasks, acts to nip potential issues in the bud. So, what can you do to manage risk in your practice?

Effectively managing risk is essential to success

Risk management is defined as the forecasting and evaluation of financial risks, together with the identification of procedures to avoid or minimise their impact. The requirement to assess various forms of risk has become a recurring theme in many areas of law and regulation. While it can all seem somewhat nebulous, getting it wrong can be costly in terms of time, fines and penalties and reputational damage to you and your firm.

Models for managing risk identify four key strategies: avoid, control, accept and transfer. The risk acceptance strategy (i.e. just accept any penalties if and when they arise) isn’t a viable option for a licensed professional, not least given the gravity of the risks we manage and the severity of the potential punishments that can be meted out by the likes of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) or the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Given the personal nature of insolvency licensing, the opportunities for risk transference are limited to those that can be insured against, and avoiding risk entirely isn’t likely to result in the acceptance of many appointments. So practically speaking, we are left with the option of controlling the risk we face, as best we can.

Start with the known unknowns

None of us have a crystal ball. The “unknown unknowns” (unexpected or unforeseeable conditions) will pose a potentially greater risk simply because they cannot be anticipated based on past experience. Challenging circumstances will necessarily occur from time to time. This is where robust internal policies and procedures come in and the assistance of lawyers and specialist advisers will be called upon.

However, on a daily basis there are “known unknowns” that we can better manage by improving our understanding of what is expected of us and what to look out for. In key compliance areas it isn’t just the licensed professional that needs to be alive to the risks, everyone has a part to play in the risk management process, whether that be in detecting a financial crime, keeping personal data private, meeting the needs of a vulnerable client or maintaining expected professional standards requirements. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

Knowledge is power

When it comes to managing risk, you can only really do so if you are aware of the form those risks might take and what is expected in terms of response. Experienced practitioners will have an inherent understanding of the risks in an appointment, built upon their years of experience, and their internal alarm bells will ring when they detect something out of the ordinary. That knowledge is applied almost subconsciously and not always articulated to those around them. We need to share the key elements of that knowledge and experience with the entire team in order to maximise its effectiveness on risk management. Training the team need not be costly, unduly time consuming nor disruptive to the business, and can yield significant benefits. And we can help you do that.

It’s not entirely optional

The Data Protection Act 2018 and the Money Laundering Regulations 2017 contain mandatory staff training requirements. The FCA is currently consulting on further guidance around the treatment of customers in vulnerable circumstances which places a strong emphasis on the need to upskill client-facing staff. While FCA regulation has not come to us all just yet, it gives a clear steer on the directions of travel for regulatory expectations when dealing with those in vulnerable circumstances. And that may include directors and employees, not just indebted individuals.

Also sometimes overlooked are the expectations of the Ethics Code; which states up front that “Although an insolvency appointment will be of the insolvency practitioner personally rather than his practice, he should ensure that the standards set out in the Code are applied to all members of the insolvency team.” Realistically, the team can only do that if they are equipped with a basic knowledge of what professional standards are expected of insolvency practitioners and why.

We can help

We can help your team manage these key compliance risks with the New ISS Compliance Awareness Online Learning Course. For further information contact: courses@insolvencysupportservices.com

First published in the August 2019 edition of RECOVERY News and reproduced with the permission of R3 and GTI Media.

What a difference a day makes…

Notice punctuality is much more than a virtue for IPs.

Many actions by office-holders (or directors in respect of prospective appointments) require the delivery of a notice to categories of persons (typically creditors), providing certain specified notice periods.

The Insolvency (England and Wales) Rules 2016 formalised the rules around notice, deemed date of delivery and calculation of time periods. The Scottish equivalents of these rules came into force in April of this year, and the issues discussed below are of equal application to appointments in Scotland.

Working in the world of compliance, we are frequently invited to review clients’ case files. On a number of occasions in recent months, we’ve seen files where insufficient notice has been given to persons entitled to receive it. The legal effects of short notice are debatable, but what is certain is that any doubt about the validity of a resolution will be extremely unwelcome.

In many cases, we are talking about simple and avoidable calculation errors resulting in short notice by a single day. In this article we will examine what difference a day can make. The criteria are all clearly set out, so why are we seeing so many instances of short notice?

Deemed date of delivery – day zero

One area of confusion seems to be that delivery is itself subject to rules around when it is deemed to have taken place. The deemed date of delivery is calculated with reference to the delivery mechanism employed and is based on business days. It does not, therefore, include weekends and UK Bank Holidays.

The deemed date of delivery is not included within the calculation of the notice period, so is effectively day zero, not day one. By way of example, if you mail by first-class post on the Friday before a Bank Holiday weekend, the deemed date of delivery is not until the following Wednesday and day one of the notice period does not commence until the Thursday.

Notice periods

Notice periods in excess of five days are based on calendar days, not business days, and the default position for notice periods is 14 clear days, unless specified to the contrary. Clear days means including neither the day of delivery, nor the day of the event. So, when fixing a decision date, you must typically add 15 days to the date of deemed delivery, not 14 (as we frequently see).

The administration conundrum

It’s well known that proposals must be sent to creditors within eight weeks of appointment and, where a decision on those proposals is sought, for the initial decision date to be within ten weeks.

However, the rules require 14 days’ notice of the decision date to be given. So, if you exclude the date of the decision itself, the date of delivery and the deemed delivery period, sending out proposals on the last day of the eight weeks necessarily means the initial decision date will not fall within the ten weeks and an extension will be required. We’ve seen a number of cases where practitioners have sent their proposals out on the last day of week eight, seeking to hold the decision on the last day of week ten, with the effect that creditors have received short notice of the decision.

Effect of short notice

The legal effect of short notice is debatable. Some comfort can certainly be drawn from rule 12.64 – ‘Formal defects’ (Scottish equivalent: rule 1.56), which provides that

‘No insolvency proceedings will be invalidated by any formal defect or any irregularity unless the court before which objection is made considers that substantial injustice has been caused by the defect or irregularity and that the injustice cannot be remedied by any order of the court.’

But that comfort might be rather cold if the defect is in the appointment process. In Pui-Kwan v. Kam-Ho it was held that the predecessor of this rule (r7.55) was only available once there was a valid insolvency appointment (and not in that case, to cure a defect in an inquorate board meeting at the inception), and in Minmar we saw an administrator’s appointment held to be invalid for a lack of notice to the company. Although in a recent and more encouraging decision, Cash Generator Ltd v. Fortune and others, the liquidators’ appointment was held valid despite a failure to give all creditors notice of a deemed consent procedure.

Short notice will necessarily give rise to rights of challenge by those affected, even if not the automatic invalidity of the process. The consistent message from regulators is that they expect any defects on the approval of remuneration to be remedied (and remuneration to be repaid in the meantime).

Practical tips:

  • Make sure your teams are clear on the calculation of delivery times and notice periods.
  • Why not add the ‘deemed date of delivery’ to your Certificates of Delivery template? It will act as a helpful aide-memoir and instantly flag the earliest date a proposed decision date can be held.
  • If you realise that you’ve provided short notice of a decision on remuneration, consider whether you need a fresh resolution or some form of ratification. Your RPB may expect you to do so.
  • We provide compliance review and in-house training services and can assist with any aspect of your compliance needs.

For further information about how we may assist you, please contact: enquiries@insolvencysupportservices.com

First published in the June 2019 edition of RECOVERY News and reproduced with the permission of R3 and GTI Media.