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Changes to UK Insolvency Rules in the Wake of Covid-19: A Much-Needed Help for Businesses or an Unjustified Harm to the Rule of Law?

Vaccari, Eugenio (2020) 'Changes to UK Insolvency Rules in the Wake of Covid-19: A Much-Needed Help for Businesses or an Unjustified Harm to the Rule of Law?' In: Ferstman, Carla and Fagan, Andrew, (eds.) Covid-19, Law and Human Rights : Essex Dialogues. A Project of the School of Law and Human Rights Centre. University of Essex, 127 - 136. ISBN 978-1-5272-6632-2

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Abstract

The economic impact of the Covid-19 outbreak has triggered calls for emergency fiscal and legislative measures to address liquidity and legal problems in several areas of law. Some of these measures address specifically companies in financial distress and insolvency statutes. Among the proposed changes to the insolvency framework, the UK Government announced a suspension of wrongful trading provision as outlined in section 214 of the Insolvency Act 1986 (‘the Act’). This announcement was later implemented (with significant amendments) in section 10 of the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill (‘the Bill’). This measure applies retrospectively from 1 March 2020 for a 3-month period or one month after the coming into force of the Bill, whichever is later. To assess the need for such a measure, this paper investigates the requirements to establish a successful claim for wrongful trading and the interpretation of those requirements, stemming from the case law. It also discusses the announced suspension as implemented by the Government in the Bill. This analysis strongly suggests that the suspension of (liability for) wrongful trading does nothing to achieve the purpose for which it was introduced, i.e. to facilitate business rescue and/or to help viable companies to survive the crisis created by the Covid-19 pandemic. To the contrary, the suspension of personal liability actions against the directors is likely to curb the rule of law in the UK. Laws are deferred and the exercise of civil liability remedies restricted without any apparent justification and with no proof that this measure is relevant to address the crisis created by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Item Type: Book Section
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > Law, School of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 30 Jun 2020 12:54
Last Modified: 30 Jun 2020 14:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/28031

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