The Bankruptcy Act has been amended by a statute which came into force on 1 July 2019. The amendments aim to simplify and accelerate bankruptcy proceedings. This article focuses on amendments that affect the position of creditors located outside Finland, such as those concerning the lodgement of claims, dates of creditors' meetings and the bankruptcy and restructuring proceedings case management system.
The Eastern Finland Court of Appeal recently ruled on a bankruptcy estate's liability for a mutual real estate company's maintenance charges. This decision further defines the scope of bankruptcy estates' liabilities and is a logical continuation of Supreme Court precedent in this area. As payments of bankruptcy estates' administrative expenses are privileged compared with claims against debtors, the definition of 'administrative expenses' should be interpreted cautiously.
In January 2015 two Supreme Court precedents indicated that assets subject to floating charges should be valued at their feasible liquidation value; however, under these precedents, the valuation terms were somewhat ambiguous and certain liquidation costs remained undetermined. The court's latest precedent addresses the equal treatment of creditors in both restructuring and bankruptcy proceedings and clearly improves the predictability of floating charges as securities in the former.
The Eastern Finland Appeal Court recently assessed whether a statutory maritime lien over cargo also covers the costs associated with a general average that accrued as a result of confirming that general average and exercising the lien for a general average contribution. In deciding that these kinds of associated costs and expenses are not recoverable and secured by a maritime lien, the court made the exercise of a lien more difficult and less attractive to shipowners.
The main aims of the Transport Code are to create a growth environment for digitalisation and promote transport business by deregulation. Due to the code's broad scope, its preparation has been divided into three stages. Provisions relating to the code's third stage were recently opened for comment by the Ministry of Transport and Communications. The majority of comments received before the June deadline highlighted data protection issues.
Generally, Finnish insolvency legislation has been stable and proven effective over the past decade. However, owing to technological advancements and recent bankruptcies involving businesses affecting the environment, there is a growing need to fine-tune bankruptcy proceedings and environmental liabilities in bankruptcies. After two years of research, an expert group established by the Ministry of Justice has published a report on these issues.
The Transport Code (formally the Act on Transport Services) is one of the government's key initiatives. The code's main purpose is to create a growth environment for business digitalisation and promote transport business by deregulation. The code will reform the regulation of all transport modes, so that the regulation itself will not become an obstacle to digitalisation, automation and new innovations.
The tax issues of a bankruptcy estate and the creditors differ depending on whether the bankruptcy estate continues the previous business of the debtor company. The effects of a debtor's bankruptcy on the creditor's taxation may be particularly significant where the creditor is a lessor to the debtor. Pursuant to legislation, a bankruptcy estate is, in principle, entitled to choose whether to conduct activity liable to value added tax provided that it does not continue the debtor's business.
Fairway dues have been a much-discussed issue in Finland for years. The controversy began in 2000 when the Finnish authorities began suspecting that ships which regularly entered and departed Finnish waters did not fully comply with the technical requirements for vessels of the relevant ice class. The authorities subsequently began collecting fairway dues retroactively. This led shipping companies and their agents to file hundreds of appeals in the administrative courts.
Correct temperature is vital to maintaining the feasibility and effectiveness of pharmaceuticals throughout their lifecycle, including during carriage. Although various guidelines have been issued and express provisions have been included in transport agreements to maintain the cold chain, damage often occurs. The Helsinki Appeal Court recently considered whether the level of a carrier's liability should be agreed in advance and whether failure to maintain an agreed temperature should constitute gross negligence.
The Supreme Court recently issued a much-awaited decision and upheld a Court of Appeal decision involving Uber passenger rides. The Supreme Court ruled that to provide an Uber service a driver must have a taxi licence. It found a driver who had driven Uber passengers without such a licence guilty and imposed a €2,100 fine.
The Supreme Court recently found that the Maritime Code should have been applied in a personal injury case and that the Espoo District Court (as a general court) did not have subject-matter jurisdiction over the claim. The Supreme Court found that when determining which court has subject-matter jurisdiction, it is necessary to first investigate whether the provisions of the Maritime Code become applicable.
In 2006 a claim was filed pertaining to a traffic accident in which the claimant had fallen off a moped and suffered a severe brain injury. The insurer rejected the claim in 2007. In 2011 the claimant discovered that the brain injury had caused permanent incapacity and a new insurance claim was filed, which the insurer rejected. The Supreme Court recently had to consider whether the exacerbation of damage starts a new period for a claim if it has already become time barred.
Following police investigations against Uber drivers in Helsinki, the district court fined an Uber driver for illegal taxi driving and ordered the driver to forfeit his earnings as criminal gain. The Helsinki Appeal Court passed a judgment and now an important precedent is pending before the Supreme Court. It is unlikely that the Supreme Court will disagree with the lower courts; nevertheless, the outcome will determine whether and how Uber can continue to operate in Finland.
In a recent case, the Supreme Administrative Court considered whether empty containers owned by those other than shipowners or charterers should be regarded as cargo in the meaning of Section 11 of the Fairway Dues Act, because 'cargo' is not defined in the act. In addition, the court considered the effect of the customs instructions in this matter.
The new Motor Liability Insurance Act recently entered into force. The previous act dated from 1959 and required complete reform and modernisation to respond to existing and future needs. The new act is structured to follow the typical chronology of the underwriting and claims handling process and aims to promote competition by giving the insurance industry the opportunity to develop new products. This appears to be succeeding, as insurers have already launched new products.
The Transport Code is one of the government's chief initiatives. Its main purpose is to create a growth environment for business digitalisation and to promote transport business by deregulation. The code will reform the regulation of all transport modes, so that the regulation itself will not become an obstacle to digitalisation, automation and new innovations. Due to the code's broad scope, its preparation has been divided into three phases. The first phase focuses mainly on road transport.
A court-approved restructuring programme can be amended only if the preconditions of the Restructuring of Enterprises Act are met. Generally, the contents of an approved programme may be amended with the acceptance of all the creditors whose rights would be violated by an amendment. However, the precondition of the debtors' acceptance is problematic when the amount of a restructuring debt is determined to be substantially more than that originally entered into the restructuring programme.
The validity of legal expenses insurance can be problematic when ending business activities. A pharmacist terminated his legal expenses insurance after he retired and ended his business activities. Some time later he received a workers' compensation claim from a former employee. The pharmacist believed that the insurance would cover the matter, but the insurer rejected the claim because the event had occurred after the validity of the insurance.
According to the Fairway Dues Act, the amount of fairway dues will be reduced if a ship is not fully loaded according to the particular loading capacity utilisation rate, which is calculated by comparing the combined total of cargo imported into and exported out of Finland. The Supreme Administrative Court recently ruled that a ship with no cargo onboard is entitled to the loading capacity reduction.