Associate Professor Christopher Symes was in Canberra this week to provide an expert briefing to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services (PJCCFS). Christopher contributed to a briefing paper and commentary provided by senior corporate law academics on the corporations legislation discussing areas for reform and issues of concern. The PJCCFS has an ongoing role to oversight the corporations’ legislation under section 243 of the ASIC Act and wished to hear of significant changes to other Commonwealth, state, territory or foreign laws significantly affecting the operation of the corporations’ legislation.
Christopher’s panel recommendation to the Joint Committee was that they review:
- How Australia’s corporate insolvency laws can better facilitate and support restructuring and corporate rescue, including:
- Review of Australia’s insolvent trading laws (including the provision of a safe harbour defence for genuine restructuring)
- Protecting businesses involved in restructuring from contractual termination clauses (ipso facto clauses)
- Whether Australia needs a more nuanced set of insolvency procedures to deal with the different needs of large and small businesses in financial distress and insolvency
- How illegal phoenix activity can be identified and addressed across government agencies.
The PJCCFS is chaired by South Australian Senator David Fawcett and the meeting discussed such matters as disclosure, business judgement and corporate regulatory systems in the global economy. Christopher expressed his concerns to the Joint Committee on the present difficulties of insolvency laws for SMEs. The panel’s briefing papers will appear on the PJCCFS’s webpage.