MVLs in Scotland – the law of unintended consequences?

Eileen Maclean has been hot on the heels of the new Insolvency (Scotland) Rules and suggests there could be risks for liquidators and members in MVLs.

Scotland’s new corporate insolvency Rules, the Insolvency (Scotland) (Company Voluntary Arrangement and Administration) Rules 2018 and the Insolvency (Scotland) (Receivership and Winding up) Rules 2018 (the new Scottish Rules) come into force on 6 April 2019.

Since their publication, we have been poring over them. We’ve had a good look at MVLs under the new Rules and highlight some potential issues in this article – not all of them necessarily intended by the Rules’ creators. No doubt as issues arise and are considered, practice and interpretation will develop. But as things stand, what are we faced with?

Transitional and savings procedures

The new Scottish Rules apply to cases open at 6 April 2019, save for any express transitional or savings provisions. Very few apply to MVLs.

Part 4 of the current 1986 Scottish Rules only applies to MVLs as specified in Schedule 2. Part 7 of the new Scottish Rules states that it ‘applies in winding up’. No definition of ‘winding up’ is given, but some Rules in Part 7 clearly refer to MVL, CVL or WUC. Generally, therefore, Part 7 applies to all processes, solvent or insolvent, voluntary or compulsory.

What does that mean in practice? Statutory interest will apply from 6 April onwards, when currently it doesn’t, to both existing and future cases. Statutory processes that previously did not apply to MVLs, eg accounting periods, will do so going forward and, in the absence of any savings provisions, for existing cases too.

Creditor claims

Where a liquidator in an MVL is dealing with creditor claims, the accounting period process specific to Scotland now applies, with all its attendant deadlines. The first accounting period is six months and cannot be shortened. Part 7, Chapter 4 Claims by Creditors now applies (which makes sense – why have a different basis of calculation in an MVL). R7.32 Payment of Dividends states that on the expiry of the appeal period (or the final determination of the last such appeal) the liquidator must pay to the creditors the dividends in accordance with the scheme of division. The small debts provisions at R.34 apply.

Any liquidator dealing with a claim now must do so within the context of the Rules. Claims by creditors must be submitted in terms of R7.16 not later than eight weeks before the end of an accounting period. The liquidator adjudicates per R7.19 and must, not later than four weeks before end of the period, accept or reject the claim. Creditors then have a right to appeal to the court not later than 14 days before the end of the period. These time limits can be varied by the court per R7.31(2)(c )(ii) (there won’t be a liquidation committee in an MVL). Alternatively, the liquidator could apply to court to set an earlier last date for claims per S153 of the Insolvency Act 1986.

The way the new Rules apply, it will in practice shift the onus onto the directors to make sure that creditors are paid pre-appointment.

While there might not be many MVLs where the liquidator is dealing with creditor claims, there will be some. And the way the new Rules apply, it will in practice shift the onus onto the directors to make sure that creditors are paid pre-appointment.

Statutory interest

R7.27 Order of Distribution imports statutory interest into MVLs where currently there is none, albeit the rate in Scotland drops to 8% from 15% on 6 April 2019. It makes sense that statutory interest applies consistently to MVLs UK-wide, and the approach to minimising statutory interest on corporation tax is back to being a UK one. Again, there are no savings provisions here, so interest now appears to apply in relation to MVLs open as at 6 April 2019. On the bright side, future debts provision for discounting at the official rate back to the date of liquidation is now included to all winding ups in R7.22.

What this potentially means in practice

  • Directors must ensure that all outstanding liabilities of the company are paid pre-appointment and, if not, members need to understand that there is a potential statutory interest liability (of up to six months).
  • Possible court application post-appointment per S153/R7.31 to deal with claims in shorter timescales than those set out in the Rules.
  • Unless there is active management of the timescales in R7.19, creditors will have to wait to get paid, assuming no appeal to an adjudication, until no earlier than 14 days before the end of the first accounting period. That entitles them to approximately 5.5 months of statutory interest as a result. That will be material in some cases, not in others. The cost of making an application to court may be worth it in some cases, but not in others.
  • Where you have a significant exposure to statutory interest in an ongoing MVL, consider paying creditors before 6 April 2019 (and use s153 accordingly).

What was previously a straightforward process now seems overly complicated, and rather goes against the spirit and intention of the new Rules.

All of this raises issues of risk for MVL liquidators and additional cost for members, where creditors have not been paid in advance of appointment. What was previously a straightforward process now seems overly complicated, and rather goes against the spirit and intention of the new Rules.

Insolvency Support Services have been examining the new legal requirements and their practical implications at a series of courses, which we can offer as bespoke in-house training, and will be providing document packs and compliance support.

For further information about how Insolvency Support Services can assist you in adjusting to these changes, contact: enquiries@insolvencysupportservices.com

 

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

Take the hassle out of ensuring your checklists and document packs are new-Rules-compliant

Have you updated your checklists and document packs in time for the introduction of the new Scottish Insolvency Rules on 6 April 2019?

Our new-Rules-compliant standard documents are available to order now, for delivery early/mid March, ready for the new legislation commencement date.

As we have been highlighting on our New Rules courses, there are process changes to Court Liquidation (SWUC) Creditors and Members Voluntary Liquidation (SCVL and SMVL) and Administration (SADM).

Some of the changes to SCVL and SMVL will ensure that the process in Scotland now mirrors the England & Wales Rules, but crucially, the remuneration approval process in Scotland for insolvency liquidations, and to an extent SADM, is not changing in structure, although there are amendments to how it will apply. There are myriad other changes that will need to be incorporated into your checklists and document packs.

We can supply checklist and document packs to support the revised Scottish statutory processes.

We have revised the structure of our document packs to reflect that the liquidation post appointment process will be broadly identical.  Prices are as follows:

Procedure Checklist Document Pack Combined
SWUC 750 750 1,500
SCVL 750 750 1,500
SMVL 750 750 1,500
Liquidation Generic 750 750
SADM 750 1,500 2,250

If you want to purchase just one liquidation pack, say SCVL, you would purchase the checklist, the specific document pack and the generic Liquidation pack, at a total of £2,250. If you were intending to purchase SCVL and SWUC, then you purchase the two specific checklists and packs, and the generic liquidation pack to support both procedures, at a combined cost of £3,750.

Purchase of three or more packs attracts a discount.

If you or your colleagues attended or wish to purchase our New Rules webinar, the cost of that attendance to a maximum of 5 participants and £250 (net) is redeemable against the purchase of any of the above checklists or document packs.

Contact us at enquiries@insolvencysupportservices.com or on 0845 6017570.

We’re speaking at R3’s Series of SPG Technical Reviews

Insolvency Support Services’ Eileen Maclean and Alison Curry are looking forward to speaking at R3’s series of SPG Technical Reviews, specifically designed for insolvency and restructuring professionals in small and medium-sized practices, in the next few months.

Their practical, focused sessions will cover the new Scottish Insolvency Rules, highlighting key changes and differences to the current England and Wales Rules.

Want to know what has changed and why? You can catch Eileen at the R3 SPG Technical Reviews in Birmingham (26 February) and Leeds (30 April) and Alison in London (14 February) and Exeter (9 May).

For more information and to book, click here.

If you need more than an overview and would like to book one of our half day courses on the new Scottish Rules, click here for more information. We’ve also added an extra Edinburgh course on 19 February due to demand. Booking is straightforward: contact Danielle Kelly and the ISS Training courses team on 0845 601 7570 or on courses@insolvencysupportservices.com.

 

Insolvency (Scotland) Rules 2018 – are you ready?

The long-awaited Scottish Rules are here!

Two sets of Rules

Due to the nature of the partially devolved corporate insolvency regime, Scotland’s Rules are found in two pieces of secondary legislation.  The Insolvency (Scotland) (Company Voluntary Arrangement and Administration) Rules 2018 and the Insolvency (Scotland) (Receivership and Winding up) Rules 2018 (“the new Scottish Rules”) were laid last month and will bring Scotland’s corporate insolvency regime broadly in line with England and Wales from 6 April 2019. Are you ready?

Decisions, decisions…

Perhaps the most significant change is the restriction placed upon an office holder’s ability to hold a physical meeting of creditors. Decisions of creditors are to be obtained using either deemed consent (where this is available) or by one of a number of prescribed decision procedures: correspondence, virtual meeting or electronic voting, with physical meetings available only where requested by the requisite number or value of creditors (the 10/10/10 rule).

Practitioners South of the Border have got to grips with these new requirements over the last two years, but not without some teething pains. Concerns remain about verifying the identity of a participant in a virtual meeting, and the potential implications of a person being excluded because of a technological failure. Perhaps counter-intuitively, it seems removing the requirement of a physical meeting has not increased creditor engagement.  But the good news for practitioners dealing with Scottish appointments from 6 April 2019 onwards, is that a lot of creditors and stakeholders will be familiar with the decision-making process already.

Effects of the new Rules

  • Consolidation: There have been 32 years of amending statutory instruments since the existing Rules came into force in 1986 and the new Scottish Rules contain impressive lists of revocations. In theory, the new Rules should be easier to use, once bedded in, though there will undoubtedly be a steep learning curve at the outset.  Have your destination tables to hand!
  • Future proofing: By describing what needs to go in a notice, report or return, rather than prescribing a particular form, the new Scottish Rules aim to reduce the need for statutory forms and amending statute for alteration. This approach is intended to provide more flexibility, though has resulted in the inclusions in the Rules of lengthy lists of standard contents. Your standard documents and notices will need to be reviewed and amended.
  • Modernisation: The language has been modernised and made gender neutral, in accordance with current drafting practice. The definitions applied by the Rules mirror those used in the England & Wales Rules broadly although there are some small (and noteworthy) variations. Where possible, the new Scottish Rules adopt a “common parts” approach with the aim of reducing repetition and unnecessary divergences between procedures.
  • Cost reduction and improved engagement: Ultimately, the new Rules give effect to the policy changes which resulted from the UK Government’s Red Tape Challenge initiative. Reducing unnecessary meetings, providing for opting out and allowing small claims to be admitted without a statement of claims are all intended to reduce cost and improve creditor engagement.

Remuneration and accounting periods

As those of you dealing with Scottish cases know, the process for obtaining approval for remuneration is distinct from England & Wales and invariably involves the court.  The remuneration approval process will remain largely unaltered, which limits the impact of the decision-making procedures when compared to England & Wales.

A more welcome revision may be the changes to the operation of accounting periods that allow an IP to manage accounting periods without court or committee approval.  The first two six-month accounting periods will remain, but thereafter a practitioner can defer a claim for remuneration without court or committee approval.

Key steps for your practice:

  • Gain familiarity with the new Rules at an early stage – come on one of our courses!
  • Review files for application of transitional and savings provisions
  • Amend document packs to reflect new standard contents – we can assist with packs
  • Consider what form of decision procedure will be appropriate for the size and nature of the cases you administer
  • Consider the benefits / opportunities presented by these changes in terms of cost saving to how you operate

We will be examining the new legal requirements and their practical implications at a series of courses running throughout January and February 2019 and providing document packs and compliance support.

For further information about how ISS may assist you in adjusting to these changes, contact: enquiries@insolvencysupportservices.com

 

Are you geared up for your GDPR responsibilities?

Alison Curry reviews the requirements for IPs under Europe’s biggest change to data protection in more than two decades.

Any substantive change to business legislation requires insolvency practitioners to take a dual approach: we must consider both our own business responsibilities and make sure that the legislation permeates our approach to insolvency appointments. And so it is with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

What does GDPR do?

The data processing regime exists to ensure that the data privacy of EU citizens is protected. It imposes strict safeguards on the use of personal data by businesses and even higher duties where that data is particularly sensitive (or ‘special category’ as it is now called).

Jargon busting

Personal data is classified as any information from which a natural person can be identified directly or indirectly; so the application of GDPR is broad. It includes, for example, the names and addresses of individual creditors, the pay details of employees and the personal details of a company’s directors.

The definition of data processing is similarly wide and includes (among other things) the collection, organisation, storage, alteration, retrieval, use, dissemination and, perhaps most surprisingly, destruction of data.

A data controller is any natural or legal person that determines the purposes and means of processing personal data. That will necessarily include an insolvency practitioner in respect of personal data contained in their case files.

A data processor is a natural or legal person that processes personal data on behalf of a controller. So if you instruct an Employment Rights Act claims handler, for instance, they are likely to be a data processor.

Any processing of the personal data, whether by data controller or data processor, must comply with GDPR. Both data controllers and processors may be joint and severally liable in the case of any breach.

Legal bases

It is a requirement that data may only be processed where one or more of the specified legal bases apply, and these must be specified in advance of the processing commencing. You can specify more than one legal basis, but you cannot change the stated basis of processing once it has been defined.

What do I need to do?

GDPR requires organisations to demonstrate compliance with the principles set out in the legislation. In essence, businesses must demonstrate that the data is: needed; relevant and accurate; held securely and only for as long as is necessary; how and why it is held; and that it is only shared as necessary.

Your business must document what personal data it holds, on what basis and in what capacity, and by whom it will be processed. As a minimum, you will need a data processing register, register of data processors and a data breach register, though ideally, you should consider documented policies to deal with data security and breaches, retention and destruction, subject access requests and processor oversight. If you process sensitive (special category) data, which is likely to be the case, you must also have a documented policy describing your processing.

You must make available privacy notices that are relevant to the various categories of data subjects you encounter (business contacts, advice clients, personal insolvency clients, directors, shareholders, staff members etc), setting out your approach to personal data handing.

GDPR upon appointment

Prior to and upon appointment, you must understand and assess the risks that GDPR presents. Your checklists or work programmes should document GDPR considerations and their potential impact and you should be able to demonstrate that the entity’s current GDPR approach has been assessed, any risks are identified and, wherever possible, minimised.

If the entity’s personal data processing will continue post-appointment, you will need to assess the GDPR risks and ensure that the entity has in place the necessary consents and appropriate controls and policies surrounding its data processing.

If personal data is likely to be transferred as part of a going concern sale, you should check whether that data is transferable and whether consent to transfer has been given or is required, with the benefit of legal advice.

Existing cases

Data subjects may be notified of changes to the relevant privacy policy by way of a link to your website on the next opportunity for communication. It seems you do not need to contact individual data subjects in closed cases, however, you should consider how you will deal with any subject access requests relating to these appointments and satisfy yourself that personal data is securely stored.

Assistance

There is lots of generic advice out there, but little if any of that is insolvency-specific. That’s where we can help. We have designed policy documents for insolvency practitioners, a GDPR checklist for use on appointments and sample privacy notices for the different categories of people that insolvency practitioners will encounter. Our full suite of GDPR documents is available for £1,850 (plus VAT). We can also provide Data Protection Impact Assessment screening, in-house training and support staff training and induction. If you would like to know more about how we can tailor our services to help you meet your GDPR obligations, please contact Alison Curry at ac@insolvencysupportservices.com.

 

Alison Curry is a licensed insolvency practitioner at Insolvency Support Services Ltd, with over 20 years of practice experience, including six years as head of regulatory standards at the Insolvency Practitioners Association.

This article first appeared in Recovery News, the newsletter of R3, the Association of Business Recovery Professionals.