Generally speaking, the purpose of adjudication is to speed up cash flow and allow the speedy resolution of disputes, while the purpose of liquidation is to resolve the final accounting position between two parties in respect of all of their dealings. As a result, there are often incompatibilities between the two regimes. A recent Technology and Construction Court decision provides the latest judicial guidance on the ability of a company in liquidation to refer a dispute to adjudication.
High-profile use of company voluntary arrangements (CVAs) has led to widespread media coverage and controversies. Household names such as Jamie's Italian, Prezzo, Toys R Us, Mothercare, Gourmet Burger Kitchen and more recently Debenhams are among the growing list of companies that have followed this well-trodden path, with varying degrees of success. This article briefly covers the CVA process, analyses Debenhams' recent High Court appeal and discusses the impact of CVAs on lenders.
In a recent ruling, the Court of Appeal confirmed that administrators owe a duty to all creditors and cannot be held personally liable for the economic loss of a creditor where no special relationship exists. In coming to its decision, the court showed a willingness to look at the commercial realities of the decisions that administrators must make on a daily basis.
The government recently announced that it will legislate to update the restructuring and insolvency systems, with the aim of the United Kingdom retaining the gold-standard regime. The reforms are a response to international developments (with countries such as Spain and the Netherlands recently introducing updated insolvency systems) and some domestic corporate collapses which have put the UK system under stress.
The United Kingdom's corporate governance regime has been stress tested in the past decade and in many respects it has done well. However, in response to certain high-profile corporate collapses which have caused heavy losses for creditors – in particular, individuals and suppliers with little opportunity to protect themselves against losses – and in the spirit of continual improvement, the government recently launched its Insolvency and Corporate Governance consultation.