Changes to Insolvency, Restructuring and Dissolution Bill

The Insolvency, Restructuring and Dissolution Bill

The Insolvency, Restructuring and Dissolution Bill, was introduced on 1 October 2018, to consolidate Singapore’s personal and corporate insolvency regimes. The personal insolvency regime is presently governed by the Bankruptcy Act (Cap 20), while the corporate insolvency regime is currently governed by specific provisions in the Companies Act (Cap 50).

With the passing of the Bill, the Bankruptcy Act will be repealed, and the provisions in the Companies Act pertaining to corporate insolvency and restructuring will be removed.

These changes to the regimes and the consolidation of the legislation brought about by way of the Insolvency, Restructuring and Dissolution Bill serve to develop the law to further strengthen the debt restructuring regimes and regulate insolvency practitioners.

This article discusses some of the significant changes brought by the new Bill, both in the individual and corporate regimes.

Individual Bankruptcy

Under the new Bill secured creditors are required to notify the bankruptcy trustee if they intend to claim interest on the debt for the period between the order and enforcement of the security within 30 days of the bankruptcy order.

This enables the bankrupt’s assets and liabilities to be determined at an earlier stage for more efficient administration of the bankruptcy.

Apart from the above, the provisions on personal bankruptcy as set out in the new Bill are mostly similar to the provisions in the current Bankruptcy Act.

Foreign Companies undergoing liquidation

The new Bill gives the Court power to appoint a liquidator of the foreign company for Singapore on the application of the actual foreign liquidator in the company’s place of incorporation. However, this can only be done where the Singapore liquidator is satisfied that the interests of creditors in Singapore are sufficiently protected before making payments to the foreign liquidator.

Corporate insolvency

Previously, there was no restriction on the exercise of contractual clauses under the Companies Act which permit the termination or modification of the contract upon the occurrence of a specified trigger event, such as insolvency or restructuring of the company.

Usually, the practical effect of the exercise of these clauses is that it became much more difficult for a company to restructure its debt because of the immediate manner in which the clauses operate to terminate or modify the existing contracts.  

Often, the exercise of such clauses by one creditor creates a cascading domino effect and completely destroys the value of the distressed company, which otherwise would not have happened had there been an opportunity to carry out the restructuring in an organised manner.

Under the new Bill, there will be restrictions placed on the exercise of such clauses.

The new Bill, however, will not affect existing cases and pending applications commenced under the Bankruptcy Act and Companies Act before the date of commencement of the Bill. In those cases and applications, the relevant provisions of the Bankruptcy Act and Companies Act will continue to apply.

The Bill is presented to ensure that Singapore’s insolvency and debt restructuring laws remain progressive and up to date with the needs of individuals and companies in the modern world.

The competing concern naturally that the parties had entered into contractual arrangements precisely on the basis that they would be entitled to exercise these rights precisely in the event of financial difficulty of that party. The legislation would effectively curtail a freely negotiated contractual bargain. Speak to our bankruptcy and insolvency lawyers today to see how you can protect your interests in such circumstances.