A Simple Guide to the Relative Priority Rule

The final version of the Directive (EU) 2019/1023 on Restructuring and Insolvency provides for a new rule to assess the fairness of the distribution of value under a plan if an affected class of creditors voted against the plan: the Relative Priority Rule (RPR). It is provided in art. 11 (1) (c) stating that one of the conditions to confirm a plan over the veto of a class is that the plan

ensures that dissenting voting classes of affected creditors are treated at least as favourably as any other class of the same rank and more favourably than any junior class’.

As an alternative to the RPR, art. 11 (2) allows Member States to implement an Absolute Priority Rule (APR) stating that the plan must ensure

the claims of affected creditors in a dissenting voting class are satisfied in full by the same or equivalent means where a more junior class is to receive any payment or keep any interest under the restructuring plan.’

As a result, all Member States are faced with the choice of either implementing the RPR or the APR when implementing the Directive into their local restructuring laws.

While the APR represents a concept that has been a part of US law for 80 years and German law for 20 years, the idea of an RPR is not just new. It has also not yet been explained extensively by scholars. If Member States consider implementing such a concept, they would probably like to know how it works and what it needs to work best.

The following quick guide aims at providing this assistance:

A simple guide to RPR (download here).

(An updated version correcting three typos was posted on Jan. 20 at 14:55 CET.)

ELI Report on business rescue finalized and approved

ELI Report on business rescue finalized and approved

Nach dem Eingang aller Berichte der National Correspondents im Jahr 2016 (siehe Beitrag) haben Prof. Bob Wessels und ich im Sommer 2017 unseren rechtsvergleichenden Bericht fertiggestellt. Er wurde auf der Jahrestagung des European Law Institute im September 2017 in Wien ohne Gegenstimme angenommen und ist nun als Instrument des ELI hier abrufbar. Eine Veröffentlichung des Berichts in Buchform ist für das erste Quartal 2018 bei Oxford University Press geplant. Dort sollen zeitgleich auch die Länderberichte (insgesamt ca. 1.100 Seiten) erscheinen.

Bob and I (left and center on the photo, with project assistant Gert-Jan Boon) are pleased to report that last week, during the General Assembly and Annual Conference of the European Law Institute (ELI) in Vienna, our report ‘Rescue of Business in Insolvency Law’ was approved as an official ELI Instrument.

The Report consists of 115 recommendations explained on more than 375 pages. Its ten chapters contain recommendations on a variety of themes affected by the rescue of financially distressed businesses: (1) Actors and procedural design, (2) Financing a rescue, (3) Executory contracts, (4) Ranking of creditor claims; governance role of creditors, (5) Labour, benefit and pension issues, (6) Avoidance transactions in out-of-court workouts and pre-insolvency procedures and possible safe harbours, (7) Sales on a going-concern basis, (8) Rescue plan issues: procedure and structure; distributional issues, (9) Corporate group issues, and (10) Special arrangements for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) including natural persons (but not consumers). The Report also includes a glossary of terms and expressions commonly used in restructuring and insolvency matters.

We as Reporters feel that the Report is timely and may have a significant and positive impact on the harmonisation efforts of the European Commission as laid down in the November 2016 Proposal for a Directive on preventive restructuring frameworks. The topics addressed in the Report are intended to present a tool for better regulation in the EU, developed in the spirit of providing a coherent, dynamic, flexible and responsive European legislative framework for business rescue. Mindful of the European Commission’s commitment to better legal drafting, the Report’s proposals are formulated as comprehensibly, clearly, and as consistently as possible. Still, the recommendations are not designed to be overly prescriptive of specific outcomes, given the need for commercial flexibility and in recognition of the fact that parties will bargain in the ‘shadow of insolvency law’. The Report is addressed to the European Union, Member States of the EU, insolvency practitioners and judges, as well as scholars. The targeted group many times flows explicitly from the text of a recommendation or the context in which such a recommendation is developed and presented.

We cherish the belief that the report will assist in taking a next, decisive step in the evolutionary process of the European side of business rescue and insolvency law.

The suggested citation is either:

Wessels, Bob and Madaus, Stephan, Business Rescue in Insolvency Law – an Instrument of the European Law Institute (September 6, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3032309,

or alternatively

Wessels, Bob and Madaus, Stephan, Business Rescue in Insolvency Law – an Instrument of the European Law Institute (September 2017). Available at http://www.europeanlawinstitute.eu/fileadmin/user_upload/p_eli/Publications/Instrument_INSOLVENCY.pdf.