The EBRD Legal Transition Team has recently worked closely with the European Commission’s DG REFORM on a number of projects in EU member states in the area of insolvency and restructuring.
Croatia – Insolvency Practitioners
In early 2020, the EBRD Legal Transition Team completed a project, in cooperation with DG REFORM and country experts Mamić Perić Reberski Rimac Law Firm and KPMG Croatia d.o.o., to strengthen the insolvency practitioner profession in Croatia. The project outcomes included a gap analysis of the existing regulatory system for insolvency practitioners and a number of recommendations on improvement of the system, including in areas related to training and continuing professional development. On the basis of these findings, the team developed a training methodology for insolvency practitioners and delivered legal and financial training to 59 insolvency practitioners and seven trainers for insolvency practitioners on five new topics, including financial and market analysis for financial and operational restructuring plans. These topics have been integrated into the Training Academy’s new 2020-2021 training curriculum.
Croatia – State-owned Enterprise Restructuring
At the request of the Ministry of State Assets, the EBRD Legal Transition Team, in cooperation with experts KPMG Croatia d.o.o. and Nestor Advisors Ltd. launched a project with DG REFORM aimed at establishing a framework for the preparation and implementation of restructuring plans and financial and operational improvement plans (FOPIP) for State-owned Enterprises (SOEs) in financial difficulty. The project, which completed in early 2020, included recommendations and guidelines for SOEs and the Ministry. The guidelines are supported by practical Excel templates for the relevant government ministries and SOEs and an Early Warning System to alert the stakeholders to the need to take early action and to facilitate monitoring, as well as FOPIP and restructuring dashboards to produce the necessary information for implementation of such plans. An article published on Law in transition 2020 provides some further insights into this project.
Cyprus – Framework for Insolvency Practitioners
The EBRD Legal Transition Team launched a technical cooperation Project in 2018 with the Cypriot Ministry of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism and DG REFORM, in cooperation with experts from EY Cyprus, to strengthen the framework and the capacity of insolvency practitioners, which concluded last year. The project addressed the lack of coordination between the three separate regulatory bodies for insolvency and restructuring practitioners in Cyprus and identified areas to be strengthened. This included design and implementation of a training methodology and framework for continuing professional development, as well as the delivery of training to 124 insolvency practitioners and future trainers in the country.
Greece – Framework for Insolvency Practitioners
In 2019, the EBRD launched a project with DG REFORM aimed at strengthening the framework for insolvency practitioners in Greece. This followed earlier Legal Transition Team’s assistance to the Greek authorities in 2015, which resulted in the introduction of Presidential Decree No. 133/2016 and examination and licensing requirements for insolvency practitioners. The experts at Platis - Anastassiadis & Associates Law Partnership and team prepared an assessment of the existing regulatory framework with recommendations for the areas that need to be standardised, coordinated or strengthened. The project also involved drafting specific amendments to primary legislation and a Ministerial Decision on training of the insolvency practitioners to implement the recommendations (to date not yet implemented). Finally, the project laid the foundation for an insolvency practitioner Training Handbook by drafting chapters on Accounting Principles and Corporate Law for training purposes.
Hungary – Insolvency Framework Reform
An ongoing technical cooperation project with the Hungarian authorities, led by the EBRD Legal Transition Team and initiated in 2019, aims to improve the legislative framework governing bankruptcy proceedings and restructuring in Hungary. The project was launched to assist the Ministry of Justice in a significant reform of the 1991 Bankruptcy Law and by-laws, including transposition of new EU Directive 2019/1023 on preventive restructuring frameworks. The project is carried out in cooperation with DG REFORM and a team of international and national experts led by CMS Hungary and is a continuation of earlier work and analysis performed by the Legal Transition Team for the Hungarian Central Bank on legal, tax and regulatory obstacles to the resolution of non-performing loans.
Latvia – Debt Restructuring Framework
The EBRD Legal Transition Team began working with the Ministry of Justice and DG REFORM in September 2019 on a new project aimed at strengthening support for debt restructuring. The team, including representatives of the EBRD Legal Transition Team, the Ministry of Justice, the European Commission’s DG REFORM and a team of experts led by PwC Latvia, has analysed practical and legislative implementation issues hindering debt restructuring and has proposed a number of recommendations in a report to the Ministry of Justice, in line with the EU Directive 2019/1023 on preventive restructuring frameworks, to encourage businesses to restructuring their debts at an early stage. As part of the project, the Ministry has published Guidelines on how to successfully solve business debt problems and has conducted a webinar presenting the Guidelines. Further debt restructuring activities and training on cross-border insolvency will be offered for judges, insolvency practitioners and persons supervising legal protection proceedings during 2020-2021.
We work regularly on projects funded by other donors or by the EBRD's Special Shareholder Fund.
Armenia – New Insolvency Court and judicial training
In 2019 the EBRD Legal Transition Team began working with the Supreme Judicial Council of Armenia, the International Development Law Organisation (IDLO) and experts from KPMG Armenia on the preparation of an Action Plan for maximising the operational performance of a new specialist Insolvency Court established in December 2018. The Action Plan was finalised in early 2020 and support is ongoing to assist the Insolvency Court with its implementation. The Legal Transition Team and IDLO are working on the design of an innovative online training programme on international and domestic insolvency law matters for Insolvency Court and higher instance judges.
Armenia – Insolvency reform and training
The EBRD has been working with the Ministry of Justice of Armenia on reforms to improve the insolvency framework and its implementation with respect to insolvency practitioners. Important amendments were introduced in December 2019 which increased the Ministry’s regulatory powers. The EBRD is currently working on a programme for training of insolvency practitioners, which will build on the online training programme for judges and contain insolvency practitioner specific materials. The EBRD has also provided draft amendments to the tax code to the Ministry of Finance aimed at addressing non-performing loans and promoting corporate restructuring (as yet not implemented).
Croatia – Insolvency analysis and judicial training
At the request of the Ministry of Justice of Croatia, the EBRD Legal Transition Team completed an analysis in 2017 of the Croatian corporate insolvency framework. In parallel, we provided in-depth insolvency training to 170 members of the judiciary. It is expected that this work will assist the Croatian authorities in transposition of the new EU Directive 2019/1023 on preventive restructuring frameworks, which is required to be integrated into national legislation by July 2021.
Cyprus – Insolvency regulatory reform
In May 2015 the Cypriot government completed a major overhaul of the country’s corporate and personal insolvency law framework as part of a Memorandum of Understanding entered into by Cyprus with the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank. Following this, the EBRD Legal Transition Team and the Cypriot authorities worked on a project that resulted in an Action Plan – approved by the Government of Cyprus in June 2018 – to improve the efficiency of the operations of the Insolvency Service. The Action Plan has led to the establishment of a new Insolvency Department under the Ministry of Energy, Commerce and Industry, which began operations in January 2020. The new department is expected to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the insolvency framework in Cyprus.
Greece – Licensing of insolvency practitioners
Until recently, the insolvency practitioner's profession in Greece was not directly regulated. The Legal Transition Team’s assistance to the Greek authorities and analysis of the regulatory framework for insolvency practitioners culminated in 2016 in the introduction of an examination and licensing system for insolvency practitioners under the Presidential Decree No. 133/2016. The team was supported by Stathis Potamitis, Managing Partner, Potamitis Vekris law firm, Greece and Lukas Kortmann of Resor law firm, Netherlands acting on behalf of INSOL Europe.
Hungary – Analysis of NPLs and recommendation
The Legal Transition Team worked closely with the Hungarian Central Bank from 2014 to 2017 to address the issue of high levels of non-performing loans in the country’s banking sector. In cooperation with White & Case Hungary and EY Hungary, the team assisted the Hungarian Central Bank with a legal, regulatory and tax analysis of NPL sale and resolution, including insolvency and enforcement frameworks. The Project was completed in 2015. In 2017 the Central Bank published, with the assistance of the team and experts from Lakatos, Köves and Partners law firm, a recommendation on corporate restructuring and consensual settlement. While technically non-binding, this recommendation has significant regulatory persuasion and has helped to coordinate the approach that creditors take in out-of-court restructurings. Articles in Law in transition 2016 and Law in transition 2017 provide some further insights into this project.
Mongolia – NPL resolution and debt restructuring
A project initiated in 2015 by the Legal Transition Team supported the Bank of Mongolia and the Working Group in developing the necessary amendments to the existing legal and regulatory framework for implementation of the Corporate Debt Restructuring Committee framework and the NPL Strategy, key objectives of the IMF programme. The team worked together with KhanLex Partners LLP on a report containing proposed legislative amendments.
Serbia – Assessment of sale of NPLs
In 2018 the Legal Transition Team with KPMG and Moravčević Vojnović i Partneri in cooperation with Schoenherr prepared a report which identified the key impediments to sale of NPLs and proposed solutions for addressing the identified impediments. The report served the working group (consisting of representatives of Ministry of Finance, Serbian Central Bank and other Serbian authorities) to develop a clear strategy for NPL resolution (including proposing amendments to the existing legislation). An article published on Law in transition 2016 provides some insights on this project.
Tunisia – Strengthening Insolvency and Restructuring
In 2016-7 the EBRD assisted the Ministry of Justice of Tunisia together with experts from Clifford Chance LLP with the drafting of a road map for the development of legislation relating to insolvency practitioners and conciliators and carried out training of judges in May 2017 on the new insolvency law introduced in February 2016. Together with the World Bank, the Legal Transition Team provided joint comments on the 2016 new insolvency law.
Ukraine - Support for the Restructuring of Ukraine’s Financial Sector
In 2016 the National Bank of Ukraine and the Ministry of Finance requested the EBRD’s support in creating of an out-of-court debt restructuring mechanism, aimed at addressing the high rate of non-performing loans in the Ukrainian banking sector. Our collaboration resulted in enactment of the Law on Financial Restructuring in June 2016 (as amended) and support for its implementation. The Legal Transition Team helped to establish and build the operational capacities of the Secretariat and Arbitration Committee, two new institutions created by the Law. We also helped to prepare arbitration rules and published Restructuring Guidelines for stakeholders. The EBRD has provided financial assistance for the operations of the Secretariat and will continue co-financing its operations with the Independent Association of the Banks of Ukraine until October 2022. As at the end of July 2020, 34 cases (amounting to more than EUR 1.36 billion) have been successfully restructured under the new framework.