Sunday, 20 December 2009

How do you get your money back when an IP commits fraud?

The primary means of being compensated in such a situation is to make a claim against the bond of the insolvency practitioner.
There are two types of bond. The specific bond is an insurance taken out by the practitioner in every case to which he is appointed. The level of the bond is set by the insolvency practitioner himself and should cover the value of the assets in his hands or known to him at the time of his appointment. If he receives or becomes aware of assets greater than this then he must increase the level of the bond to cover it. The premiums for this are paid from the insolvency itself, so the costs are effectively borne by creditors. Premiums vary depending on the size of the firm, small firms paying a much higher premium (or rather creditors of insolvencies run by smaller firms pay a higher premium for the risk involved.) The maximum bond in an insolvency is £5m and the premium might be a couple of thousand pounds.
The general bond is for £250,000 and the purpose of this is to meet any claims that exceed the amount of cover from the specific bonds. The general bond can also be used to meet liabilities not covered by a specific bond, such as a fraud committed before his appointment of the IP as officeholder in a particular case. The IP pays the premium for this and amounts to no more than a couple of hundred pounds per year.
A bond covers three heads of claim. They are:
  1. The amount of loss as a result of fraud or dishonesty plus interest.
  2. The additional costs of appointing a successor practitioner in the case of fraud or dishonesty.
  3. The costs of proving the claim, and the unavoidable parallel costs incurred by the successor practitioner.

The maximum that may be claimed against a particular IP is £25m, regardless of the level of insurance in place or the frauds that have occurred.

If a fraud occurs, the successor practitioner has 2 years from the date the delinquent practitioner was released from office to bring the claim. If the claim is successful then the bond company will take assignment of the claim against the IP and bring it against him personally. The bond is not an insurance that protects the IP but is intended for the protection of victims of any fraud.

In my view this system is not fit for purpose for the following reasons.

  1. The IP has effectively some discretion in the level of cover and it does not cover assets that do not appear in the Statement of Affairs. Therefore dishonesty such as selling the assets too cheaply are not properly covered by a bond. A dishonest pre-pack sale of the assets back to the directors would only be insured for the value of that sale, not its true value that might be later proved by a court.
  2. It is all too common for the IP to fail to obtain cover at all, especially if the process of his loss of licence is long and drawn out. The IP often loses interest in what he sees as petty compliance in the last days of licence holding and bonds are an expense that he may not want to bear.
  3. The cover is often the only asset available after an IP has lost his licence. He has often allowed his PII cover to lapse or the insurer seeks to void it on a number of grounds. The cover is too limited and does not pay for a simple clean up of the cases so that creditors do not have to bear the direct costs in a situation where no fraud has taken place. The successor practitioner must still conduct an investigation into the particular case and the creditors suffer the costs if there is insufficient evidence of fraud to make a successful claim.
  4. The level of general bond is simply far too low. It has been set at £250,000 since 1986 and is not large enough to fulfill its purpose of acting as a catch-all for the shortcomings in the specific bonds.

I would propose the following.

  1. Specific bonds should be set at the higher of the assets or the creditors. In the case of a CVL with £100k in assets and £1m in liabilities the cover would be for £1m. In an MVL with assets of £1m and liabilities of £100k, it would still be £1m. This level of cover would not greatly increase the premiums as the risk is the same and the level of assets that could be stolen are only marginally higher. What this would do is avoid the nonsensical situation where the level of insurance is a major issue in whether to investigate the case at all.
  2. The general bond should be increased to at least £5m. This could be a partial alternative to the above as increasing the specific bonds should reduce the chances of claims on the general bond. However, claims for fraud or dishonesty are not cheap to bring and it is possibly the case that interest and legal costs could still exceed the level of even an increased specific bond. As above, it ought not be the case that recovery for fraud is stifled by a systemic defect in the legal minimum level of cover.
  3. The bond should provide a wider range of cover. There is the need for funding of the general putting right of a distressed portfolio of insolvencies so that creditors of merely abandoned cases do not have to bear the costs of the insolvency profession putting it right. There should also be a fund available to recover the costs of the regulator intervening in the practice and investigating the misconduct. All of this would be a feature solely of the general bond so that it was funded by practitioners rather than creditors.

I have had some outline discussions with insurers and it appears that the costs of these reforms would not be too drastic. The most expensive would be the extension of the cover under the general bond to fund general investigations. The increase from £250k to £5m might raise the premium to £1,000 per year that the IP has to bear. Is that so much?

Friday, 18 December 2009

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! - blogging interregnum

Dear Readers

Thank you for reading the blog over the last year. We have had approximately 110 readers a day since we began back in February. Readers hail from 94 different countries. We now have five guest bloggers covering all aspects of the subject. All bodes well for the new year.

I am off on my holidays until the 6 January 2010 so I would like to take this chance to wish you a happy Christmas and prosperous new year.

There will be an interregnum on posts from me (my co-bloggers may still post) until the 6 January 2010. Until then, adieu!

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Welcome to Mr Stephen Hunt of Griffins, London and Dubai - An Insolvency Practitioner Blogger

I am very pleased to announce that we have at last recruited an Insolvency Practitioner (IP) to the bankruptcy blogger team. Mr Stephen Hunt is an IP at Griffins insolvency practitioners, based in Tavistock square, London. The firm also have offices in Dubai, UEA.

Mr Hunt has many years experience in the field of insolvency and has taken appointments on both the corporate and personal side. His posts will range across both sides of the subject and will mull on issues from a practical IP perspective. We are very fortunate. Mr Hunt is a frequent commentator on policy issues and a number of his cases have featured in the press recently, including More4 news.

The peculiar logic of docking sports teams league points because of insolvency - Coventry Rugby Club

The RFU have docked Coventry Rugby Club 15 league points after the club went into administration on the 4 December 2009. As the BBC note: "The penalty is one the RFU applies to any Guinness Premiership, Championship or National League club which experiences insolvency during a season...The deduction will leave them 11th in the Championship on seven points - one place above Birmingham & Solihull who have also suffered a 15-point penalty."

This story illustrates a point I have made on this blog before in relation to sports clubs and insolvency (see here and here). If a club enters an insolvency process it is clearly in trouble. The practice of then docking points as a penalty for using an insolvency procedure seems rather strange. It is a form of twisted logic to further punish a club who are using a rescue procedure to get back on their feet. The counter argument that the penalty is designed to ensure prudence does not wash as insolvency can occur despite meticulous planning and management.

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Thursday, 17 December 2009

Mr Ian Lucas MP's letter to IPs on their duty to consult employees facing redundancy

Previously on this blog I critically examined a letter that Mr Pat MacFadden MP had written to Insolvency Practitioners (IPs) regarding redundant employees and the need for consultation. His successor as Minister of State at BIS with responsibility for insolvency issues, Mr Ian Lucas MP (pictured), has also now written to IPs on the same issue. His letter of the 20 November 2009 notes:
"I write further to the letter sent to you on 4 March 2009 by Pat McFadden, in respect of the duty to consult employees facing redundancy. I am writing, as the Minister now responsible for insolvency law and practice, to underline the importance of this duty and its implications.

I appreciate that there are many pressures and responsibilities on those administering insolvencies. One particular responsibility, which in my view it is vital to handle well, is the redundancy process. This needs to be carried out sensitively and with due regard to the interests and legal rights of employees. The Government expects that a workforce should be consulted as soon as practicably possible if collective redundancies are proposed, as required by the employment legislation referred to in the attached annexe.

Although insolvency practitioners have been reminded of the requirement to comply with these legislative provisions, there is a continuing concern that these obligations are not being met. I am well aware that an administrator has a duty to act in the interests of creditors but, as explained in the annexe, this does not mean that there is a conflict between this and complying with the relevant requirements in respect of employees.

I have recently written to all the recognised professional bodies reminding them that where an insolvency practitioner had contributed to a breach of the consultation or notification provisions, they have a responsibility to consider that conduct and, where appropriate, take disciplinary action. I have also asked my officials to monitor cases where protective awards are made as a result of the conduct of an insolvency practitioner, and monitor what action, if any, is taken by the relevant recognised professional body.

Breach of the duty to notify the Secretary of State is also a criminal offence. The Redundancy Payments Service will investigate and refer appropriate cases for consideration for prosecution where there is a clear breach of the requirement to give the notification to the SEcretary of State. The maximum penalty on conviction is a fine of £5,000.

Pat McFadden's letter made reference to the services of Jobcentre Plus in providing assistance to employees who are facing possible redundancy. I am pleased to note R3, the insolvency Service and Jobcentre plus signed a Memorandum of Understanding on 22 October 2009 and I hope that insolvency practitioners will adopt the principles in that Memorandum. "
As with Pat MacFadden's letter, there are a number of points that can be made in response to the minister's recent missive. First, what is the definition of consultation? Would telling people on day one of an appointment that they are going to be made redundant constitute consultation? If an officeholder goes in to an ailing company at 9.00am with no cash to trade how on earth could he properly consult with employees in terms of the ninety day period? Telling people that they are going to be made redundant is not consultation. But what other choice does an IP have? If there is no cash he cannot "consult" in the wider sense.

Secondly, the employment tribunals tend to err on the side of employees (with union backed litigation) and IPs tend not to defend these cases, as a challenge is a direct expense and comes out of the pot for creditors. If IPs challenge everybody looses. The employee gets the ninety day period by default unless it is challenged. The ninety day awards will almost invariably never be paid as they rank as unsecured creditors. The whole area starts to fall into disreputability as these claims will never be paid. The solution is for Government to fund the awards properly (where there is no money in the company).

Redundancy needs to be handled sensibly and sensitively, but the bottom line is that if there is no money in the company there is little scope for real "consultation." There cannot be. The conversation is certainly already had between IPs and employees. To threaten IPs with criminal sanctions for breach of this circular conundrum seems to be more of a vote winner than a sensible point. How can IPs be penalised for a situation that has arisen before they were appointed? Surely the directors of the company are the officeholders who Mr Lucas should be aiming his sights at. This is of course if that is where he is coming from. IPs often do the best in very difficult circumstances.

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Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Insolvency in Private Eye again (for the fourth week running) - "Ethics men"

Private Eye (No.1251, 11 December - 24 December 2009) has featured our subject again. This is the fourth week running. Bankruptcy is mentioned at page 11 and a further in depth exposition of corporate insolvency practice is contained at page 28 ("Ethics man"). Happy reading!

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Tuesday, 15 December 2009

"The Business of Bankruptcy" - IPs hammered by More4 News

AHH! Companies cannot go bankrupt in English law. That legal state is reserved in England and Wales to natural persons. That mini-rant aside, the More4 News story on Insolvency Practitioners (IPs) allegedly profiteering from insolvent estates is now live on their website. It makes interesting viewing (and reading). See "Reaping profit from insolvency."

The news item does not however make for balanced journalism. This is because the authors/presenters do not seem to take account of the concept of value for money. They have taken a simplistic approach to both the overall figure of IP earnings over the last two years (some £2 billion allegedly - where is this figure from?) and also to the hourly rate point. A partner, let's call him Dave (a tax partner advising on complex tax issues), may well charge £750.00 per hour, but that work might actually represent good work which represents value for money. The journalist seems to have failed to examine what the charges actually related to. What has Dave done in that hour? If Dave has saved the insolvent estate £2,500,000 due to his unravelling of a tricky tax point, then that is not a bad use of £750.00 in anybody's book.

The second major point relates to compliance. Insolvency is a heavily regulated sector. Compliance costs the creditors money. It is incumbent on MPs to explain to creditors why the laws that they legislated for are so costly to administer. The IPs did not create the legislative environment. MPs and Peers did. The Insolvency Rules 2011 herald yet another change and further cost for IPs. This will eventually be borne by creditors, but the catalyst for change does not sit with IPs. One could argue that IPs are not to blame for any current dissatisfaction, but that legislators are for promulgating the environment in which IPs are forced to operate. That is of course if you accept that there is in fact anything afoot with the status quo in terms of charge out rates.

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The Provision of Services (Insolvency Practitioners) Regulations 2009 SI published

Just as a rather large hullabaloo seems to be enveloping the corporate insolvency industry (which is currently under investigation by the OFT) the The Provision of Services (Insolvency Practitioners) Regulations 2009 have been published. The provisions make amendments to the Insolvency Practitioners Regulations 2005. As the explanatory note states:
"These Regulations implement Directive 2006/123/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on services in the internal market (OJ No. L 376, 21.12.2006, p.36) (“the Directive”) as it relates to insolvency practitioners.

The Directive establishes general provisions facilitating the exercise of freedom of establishment for service providers and the free movement of services, while maintaining a high quality of services.

In particular, the Directive provides that—
  • in the absence of an overriding reason relating to the public interest, limitation of an authorisation to provide a service to a particular part of a territory is prohibited (Article 10(4));

  • authorisation granted to a provider of services must not be for a limited period except where authorisation is automatically renewed or is subject only to continued fulfilment of requirements (Article 11(1));

  • any fee in connection with authorisation procedures to provide a service must be reasonable and proportionate to the service provided in consideration of the fee and must not exceed the cost of the procedures (Article 13(2)); and

  • where a provider of services has professional liability insurance or a guarantee in a member State where the provider is already established which is equivalent or essentially comparable to that required in another member State, there must be no requirement for further professional liability insurance or guarantee (Article 23(2))."

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Time Called on Bankrupts according to the Government BIS news service

The BIS news service has posted up an interesting piece on some naughty bankrupts. They will not have their bottoms displayed like in Padua, but they will be punished. The news story is entitled: "Time Called on Bankrupts." It notes:
"Two bankrupt former pub owners from Warehorn, Ashford have been given suspended prison sentences after failing to tell the Official Receiver that they had sold their pub and fled to Spain with the profits, following a prosecution by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
Lynda Anne Parker and Graham Richard Hornigold, former owners of the Woolpack public house plead guilty to offences under the Theft Act 1978 and the Insolvency Act 1986 at Canterbury Crown Court.
Despite owing creditors almost £46,000, Parker and Hornigold sold their pub in March 2002 making a profit of over £200,000 and fled to Malaga in Spain where they set up home.
Despite a warrant being issued for their arrest in 2005, the pair were only brought into custody on 29th January 2009 on their return to the UK.
On Thursday 10 December, Parker was sentenced to four months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months and Hornigold was sentenced to 9 months imprisonment, also suspended for 12 months.
Business Minister Pat McFadden said:
“We are determined to crack down on cheats like these who profit by deception.
“When someone acts in this way they are effectively stealing from honest creditors, who are owed money and can suffer as a result.
“This prosecution sends a clear message to would-be fraudsters that they won’t get away with it.”
Whilst passing sentence, His Honour Justice Ellis said: "Both of you are a disgrace, to each other and your family. “You currently do not have any funds, but if funds were to be discovered then you would be expected to make payments.”

Notes to
Lynda Anne Parker and Graham Richard Hornigold plead guilty to the
following charges at Canterbury Crown Court:
Obtaining Services by
Deception, contrary to Section 1 (1) of the Theft Act 1978 (namely a mortgage
service provided by Northern Rock plc).
Concealing property before bankruptcy, contrary to Sections 354(1)(c) and 350(6) of the Insolvency Act 1986
Bankrupt failing to deliver up property to receiver, contrary to Sections 354(1)(a) and 350(6) of the Insolvency Act 1986
Bankrupt absconding, contrary to Sections 358 and 350(6) of the Insolvency Act 1986."

Monday, 14 December 2009

Value and adverse press comment regarding the UK Insolvency Industry

The Times has published an interesting piece entitled "Advisers rake in £3bn from Lehman Brothers, Woolworths and other failed firms." The article makes interesting reading. Perhaps of more relevance though are the reader comments. At least one Insolvency Practitioner (IP) seems to have entered the fray. The Financial Times has also reported on a similar issue but with particular emphasis on Begbies Traynor.

One counter argument to these accusations of profiteering, and allegations of fat cat behaviour (pictured), could be to focus on the value that the insolvency industry brings to the UK economy in rescuing viable businesses. In terms of the value of the insolvency industry it is important to consider evidence. The Association of Business Recovery Professionals (R3) commissioned some independent research by the Centre for Economics and Business Research Ltd (not to be confused with Cambridge University's Centre for Business Research) in 2008 into the insolvency industry. The R3 research noted that the UK insolvency industry:
"employs 12,700 people

directly, including 1,744 licensed

insolvency practitioners, in

714 firms

• makes a direct contribution

to national GDP of

£780 million annually

plus an extra £230 million

indirect contribution through

employees’ spending and

purchases from suppliers

• provides assistance to

businesses with a combined

turnover of £132 billion

each year

• helps to save 910,000 jobs

annually in businesses that

are suffering from solvency


• is ranked ninth out of 127

countries for speed with

which it deals with troubled

businesses and tenth out

of 175 countries for the

amount it recovers for


• plays a vital role in

maintaining a business

environment in which

creditors are willing to lend,

entrepreneurship is encouraged

and the economy can flourish.

Our research demonstrates

that jurisdictions, like the

United Kingdom, that treat

creditors appropriately in times

of business difficulties are the

most likely to be prosperous in

the longer-term."

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Use of Schemes of Arrangement by Foreign Businesses - breaching the dyke?

As Ho has shown, foreign insurance companies have increasingly resorted to solvent schemes of arrangement as a speedier exit strategy to finalise their run-off requirements while they are still solvent.[1] This was highlighted in DAP Holdings N.V. and others[2] where it was held that the court had jurisdiction to sanction a scheme of arrangement under Section 425 of Companies Act 1985 in respect of 17 Dutch insurers and one Dutch reinsurer. None of the companies had their centre of main interest (COMI) in England and Wales. The Section empowers the court to sanction a compromise or arrangement between a company and its creditors or member and a company was defined as any company liable to be wound up under the Companies Act 1985.[3]

In the DAP case eighteen companies applied for approval of their respective schemes of arrangement. The High Court sanctioned a solvent scheme which made the case significant because it was the first scheme to be sanctioned since Re British Aviation Insurance Co,[4] in July 2005, where the court declined to sanction a solvent scheme of arrangement. Moreover, the case is also the first English judgment to consider the court’s jurisdiction to sanction a scheme for non-UK EU companies, in light of recent EC legislation. This will assist other foreign insurance and reinsurance companies outside the UK that have written London market business and are looking to promote schemes of arrangement in England as an alternative to running-off their books of business.

The fact of the DAP case

Dutch Aviation Pool (DAP) was formed by 18 Dutch insurance companies and was managed by DAP holding, which also participated in the pool. The other 17 insurers, who were all solvent, ceased participating in the pool on 31 December 1996. DAP Holding continued to write business wholly for its own account for consistent four years before it went to a run-off. Therefore, the DAP scheme was a mixture of solvent schemes for the 17 solvent pool members, and an insolvent scheme for DAP Holding, which was, technically speaking insolvent, despite the fact that it was not in any formal insolvency process.

A scheme of arrangement had been used in Re British Aviation Insurance Co to terminate the run-off part of the company’s insurance and reinsurance business. It was argued by the creditors opposing the scheme that the creditors with incurred but not reported (IBNR herein after) claims should have formed a separate class for voting purposes, rather than being grouped together with other creditors to consult together in a single meeting followed by the court’s agreement.

It was held that the company had not called the right number of class meeting, and refused to sanction the scheme. The DAP scheme was revised after the Re British Aviation Insurance Co case by emphasising three important points: first, there were two separate classes of scheme creditors for the 17 solvent insurers, namely creditors with IBNR claims and with non-IBNR claims; secondly, since DAP holding was technically insolvent, there was no need for a separate class of IBNR creditors for DAP Holding.

The restriction of Section 425 of the Companies Act 1985 was not just to companies incorporated under the Companies Act 1985. A UK scheme can be sanctioned for non-UK companies so long as it is liable to be would up as an “unregistered company” under Section 221 of the Insolvency Act 1986 on condition that there is “sufficient connection” with England. However, the “sufficient connection” test is a matter of discretionary exercise of jurisdiction rather than a question of the existence of the jurisdiction itself.[5] Among other factors the English courts will consider other factors including issues on whether the company carried on business in the UK through a business presence in England of operated in the London market or has a UK based creditors or UK based assets or even whether the company underwrote policies governed by English law.

The impact of the case

The decision in DAP case demonstrated that the case law on solvent schemes of arrangement for insurance and reinsurance companies is in a period of change towards the clear legal position for anyone seeking to formulate an insurance or reinsurance scheme. Traditionally, the company in question must have its COMI within the EU and must be not be a credit institution, an insurance understanding, and investment undertaking holding funds or securities for third party, or a collective investment undertaking in order to fall within the cope of the EU Insolvency Regulation.

The Court considered the effect of the Council Regulation 1346/2000/EC on insolvency proceedings, which allocates jurisdiction to wind up either on a principal or ancillary basis, depending on the COMI or “establishments” of the company.[6] Moreover, Article 1(1) of the Council Regulation 1346/2000/EC applied to collective insolvency proceeding which entailed the partial or total divestment of a debtor and the appointment of a liquidator. On the contrary, DAP did not have its COMI in the UK for the purpose of opening insolvency proceedings under Article 3(1) of the Council Regulation 1346/2000/EC, nor did it have an establishment here for territorial proceeding under Article 3(2).

The English court will have jurisdiction under Insolvency Act 1986 to wind up a company only if the company has it COMI or establishment in the UK where the EU Insolvency Regulations applies. However, this proposition does not sit well with the decision in DAP case which appears to be inconsistent with a prior decisions in Re Drax Holdings[7] and a subsequent decision in Re Sovereign Marine & General Insurance[8].

[1] Ho, LC. Solvent Schemes for Insurers – A Touch of Class and Jurisdiction’ (2005); available at SSRN:

[2] [2005] EWHC 2092; [2006] B.C.C. 48. Hereafter referred to as the DAP case.

[3] Re DAP Holdings N.V. and others [2005] EWHC 2092; [2006] B.C.C. 48.

[4] [2005] EWHC 1621.

[5] Callar, S. The British Connection (2005) European Run-off 15 at 16-17.

[6] Article 3 EC Insolvency Proceeding Regulation 1346/2000.

[7] [2003] EWHC 2092 (Ch); [2006] BCC 48.

[8] [2006] EWHC 1335 (Ch); [2007] 1 BCLC 228.

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Friday, 11 December 2009

HOBS: Bankruptcy law as a Diabolical law - so - Bare Bankrupts' Buttocks - 1780

I have mentioned whipping bankrupts on this blog before and other treatments. That reference indicated that Sir Edward Coke, the greatest lawyer of all time, was against the idea. Some 150 years after he spoke out against such treatment, one commentator suggested that the ritual humiliation of bankrupts might be an acceptable treatment. Writing in the General Advertiser and Morning Intelligencer (London, England, Tuesday, January 18, 1780; Issue 871) the anonymous authors observed:
"Public faith will never be restored in this kingdom, but by a total repeal of the bankruptcy law; never was such frauds committed as under this diabolical law; many bankrupts appear to have lost all sense of shame from the hour their names were published in the Bankrupt calender. Men, who never were intended as the objects of this act, such as agents, attorneys, &c, have thrown themselves into discount trade for the purpose of coming under the description of persons intitled to the benefit of it [i.e. traders].

It is a law in Padua in Italy [pictured], that when a debtor will swear himself not worth five pounds, and is set by the bailiffs thrice with his bare buttocks on a stone, which stands in the great Town-Hall of Padua, superscribed Lapis Vituperii, in full hall, clears himself of any other further prosecution from his creditors; but this is a punishment that nobody has submitted to these fifty years - Now if bankrupts were to undergo the same process in our Exchange, it is probable so many of them would not appear in the list."
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Thursday, 10 December 2009

HOBS: Irish bankruptcy law then and now - plus a change!

I recently blogged on a news story that suggested there was trouble ahead for insolvent Irish companies. My co-blogger, Mr Bill Holohan, is better placed than me to comment on these issues. I thought I would throw my two pence in though from an historical perspective. As with most areas of our subject, nothing changes!

The General Evening Post, which was published in London on Tuesday, April 8, 1777 (Issue 6752) observed that:
"The bankruptcy law, which was intended as a provision to do justice to the creditor as well as relieve the debtor, seems to be universally reprobated. We have had since the passing of that act more failures in this kingdom, particularly in Dublin, for capital sums, than have happened for many years preceding."

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose!

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Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Nothing new in the Tories' attack on the Insolvency Service

The recent attack by the Tories on the Insolvency Service is nothing new. Almost since the beginning of the bankruptcy jurisdiction there have been critical comments about the role of those who administer the system, whether they be civil servants, accountants or lawyers. For example, the Lloyd's Evening Post and British Chronicle, which was published in London on Monday, October 2, 1758 (Issue 189, at page 324), noted:
"That the dignity of government should be maintained is right and reasonable, but the vermin who eat up the poor by perquisites, always crawl from the many rotten parts of the constitution. Is it reasonable, for instance, that in case of bankruptcy, the law, which never lost a shilling by the bankrupt, should without performing any visible service for it, run away with more money than perhaps is shared amongst all his suffering creditors, many of whom are obliged to starve, that the Lawyers eat?"
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose!

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