New hope for struggling firms after Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act becomes law

Garry Lee - Chair R3 Southern  Thames Valley Committee
Garry Lee - Chair R3 Southern Thames Valley Committee

Businesses in Hampshire struggling due to the current coronavirus pandemic are being offered a substantial lifeline with one of the largest shake-ups of insolvency laws in nearly 20 years.

According to the Southern & Thames Valley branch of the insolvency and restructuring trade body R3, the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 – which has just passed into law – is a huge step forward in navigating the enormous economic damage caused by COVID-19.

In addition to temporary easements on reporting requirements for private and public limited companies, the act includes new corporate restructuring tools aimed at maximising business rescue as well as the temporary suspension of parts of insolvency law.

R3 Southern & Thames Valley Chair Garry Lee, who is an associate director in the recovery and restructuring services team at accountancy firm Smith and Williamson, said: "The measures contained in the act come not a moment too soon.

“They will add to the options available to insolvency and restructuring professionals focused on rescuing businesses and supporting long-term corporate survival.”

The new act introduces a moratorium which will give struggling companies a 20-business day opportunity to consider a rescue plan, extendable to 40 business days, with further extensions at the agreement of creditors or the court.

Further proposed measures include temporary changes to wrongful trading provisions, which will enable businesses to continue to operate without the threat of personal liability to directors.

Garry said: “The proposed legislation will give both solvent and insolvent businesses in Hampshire crucial breathing space and increased legislative flexibility to review options without being pushed prematurely into an insolvency procedure.

“This new approach could make a significant contribution to repairing the economic devastation caused by the current pandemic.”

The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act was passed into law, following its Royal Assent on June 26.

R3 is among key organisations from across the insolvency and restructuring framework welcoming the new law.

They include the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), the Insolvency Practitioners’ Association (IPA), ICAS, and Chartered Accountants Ireland.
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