Overriding the IBC’s over-rider

Insolvency resolution regimes, globally, function as an exception to otherwise accepted norms of commercial law.[1] The Indian Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (“Code”), is no exception: a mere glance at the Code will display how it has a liberal sprinkling of non-obstante clauses.[2] From a specific dispute resolution mechanism, to an overarching carve out for insolvency resolution mechanism, the legislature has inserted non-obstante clauses in the Code as guidance of its intent. One would imagine that this would have ensured sufficient clarity for all stakeholders, avoided disputes and ensured timely insolvency resolution. Yet, as market participants try to understand the scope and intent of non-obstante clauses in the Code, such clauses continue to generate legal debate and litigation[3]. Perhaps, the stakes are too high for the parties to resist litigating. And some would argue not without good legal reason: after all, the Hon’ble Supreme Court has over the years identified exceptions[4] to the Latin maxim ‘leges posteriores priores contraries abrogant’ i.e. in the event two special statutes contain non obstante clauses, the non-obstante clause in the chronologically later special statute shall prevail[5].
Continue Reading Overriding the IBC’s Over-Rider?

Put option Holders - Financial Creditors under the IBC – Part 2

In our previous post, we discussed the La-Fin Judgments passed by the NCLAT (Pushpa Shah v. IL&FS Financial Services Limited[1]) and NCLT[2], which had held that a put option holder may be treated as a ‘financial creditor’ under the Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC). A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court set aside the La-Fin Judgments in Jignesh Shah vs Union of India[3] primarily on the technical grounds of limitation without expressing a view on whether the NCLT and NCLAT were correct in treating a put option holder as a financial creditor.

This was followed by the landmark decision of Pioneer Urban and Infrastructure Limited vs Union of India (Pioneer Judgment)[4] in which the Supreme Court interpreted the provisions of Section 5(8)(f) of the IBC in a manner similar to that done in the La-Fin Judgments, stating that the provision would subsume within it “amounts raised under transactions which are not necessarily loan transactions, so long as they have the commercial effect of a borrowing” and “done with profit as the main aim.”
Continue Reading Put option Holders: Financial Creditors under the IBC? – Part 2

IBC Second Amendment Bill 2019

The edifice of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (“IBC”) was conceptualised on ideas such as promoting ‘maximisation of value of assets’, ‘a transparent and predictable insolvency law’,  ‘avoiding destruction of value of the debtor’ and recognising the difference between ‘malfeasance and business failure’.[1] In the three years since the enactment of the IBC, many areas in the insolvency resolution process  have required judicial and legislative interventions to enable the process to achieve the desired results.

Among others, the ongoing investigations against insolvent entities and the risk of cancellation of critical government contracts during the insolvency process, were identified as key impediments to strategic interest in the stressed market. The introduction of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019 (“Bill”), by the Government, is a step that will help overcome such ‘critical gaps in the corporate insolvency framework’.[2]
Continue Reading IBC Second Amendment Bill, 2019: Finishing Touches to the Indian Restructuring Landscape

Essar Steel India Limited - Supreme Court reinforces primacy of Creditors Committee in insolvency resolution

Essar Steel judgement of the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT), which required that the secured financial creditors share recoveries in a resolution plan under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC), inter se (irrespective of the ranking of their security positions) and with the trade creditors, on a pari passu basis, was considered a ”confusion in the different types of creditors” and a setback for the nascent but growing secondary debt market in India. The judgement perhaps was also opposed to the realities of credit risk assessments and pricing of the credit leading to an unsatisfactory resolution outcome for creditors in an insolvency situation.
Continue Reading Essar Steel India Limited: Supreme Court Reinforces Primacy of Creditors Committee in Insolvency Resolution

Put-option Holders - Financial Creditors Under the IBC

In its recent judgment in the case of Jignesh Shah v. Union of India[1] (Jignesh Shah), a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court set aside the NCLAT judgment in the case of Pushpa Shah v. IL&FS Financial Services Limited[2] (NCLAT Judgment) along with the original judgment of the NCLT[3] (NCLT Judgment and, together, La-Fin Judgments). The NCLT Judgment and the NCLAT Judgment had rejected the corporate debtor’s objection in relation to the claim being time barred and initiated corporate insolvency resolution process on the basis that a put option holder may be treated as a “financial creditor” under the Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC).
Continue Reading Put-option Holders: Financial Creditors Under the IBC?

Is Liquidation Irreversible - Schemes of Compromise in Liquidation

The 2005 Report of the Expert Committee on Company Law (JJ Irani Committee Report) had noted that an effective insolvency law:

should strike a balance between rehabilitation and liquidation. It should provide an opportunity for genuine effort to explore restructuring/ rehabilitation of potentially viable businesses with consensus of stakeholders reasonably arrived at. Where revival / rehabilitation is demonstrated as not being feasible, winding up should be resorted to.

Where circumstances justify, the process should allow for easy conversion of proceedings from one procedure to another. This will provide opportunity to businesses in liquidation to turnaround wherever possible. Similarly, conversion to liquidation might be appropriate even after a rehabilitation plan has been approved if such a plan was procured by fraud or the plan can no longer be implemented”.
Continue Reading Is Liquidation Irreversible? Schemes of Compromise or Arrangement for Companies in Liquidation

By utilising its powers under Article 142 of the Indian Constitution, the Supreme Court of India has delivered an unprecedented decision on August 09, 2018 in Chitra Sharma & Ors. v. Union of India and Ors[1]., and other connected matters (the Jaypee / homebuyers Case)[2]. In this era of evolving jurisprudence on the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC), the Supreme Court, by this landmark decision, has settled some highly debated issues with respect to its implementation and has provided much required certainty. This has been achieved by the Supreme Court paving the way to reset the clock by re-commencing the Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP).

Continue Reading Resetting the Clock: Supreme Court Sends Jaypee Infratech Limited Back to NCLT for CIRP