CORPORATE INSOLVENCY RESOLUTION PROCESS UNDER INSOLVENCY AND BANKRUPTCY CODE, 2016
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STAGE-WISE PROCESS FOR INSOLVENCY:-
- In case a corporate debtor makes a default in repayment of dues of the creditors, the financial creditor/s, an operational creditor or a corporate debtor through Corporate applicant or any authorised member, a person who has the controlling capacity over the financial affairs of the corporate debtor has the power to start the insolvency resolution process. In order to initiate the resolution process, an application has to be made to National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) under (Section 10, IBC, 2016 in case of Corporate Debtor, Section 7 and 9 of IBC, 2016 in case of Financial Creditors and Operational Creditors).
- A ten days demand notice under (Section 8(2) of IBC, 2016 in case of Operational Creditors) has to be given to the corporate debtor by the Operational Creditors before he approaches the NCLT under Section 9 of IBC, 2016). However, an operational creditor can directly approach the NCLT if the corporate debtor does not repay the outstanding dues or fails to show any existing difference. (Kindly refer to Section 8: Insolvency resolution by operational creditor. & Section 9: Application for initiation of corporate insolvency resolution process by operational creditor.)
- The new code states that the insolvency process of a Corporate Debtor must be concluded within 180 days from the date of initiation in the NCLT (Section 12, IBC of 2016). The claims of the Creditors shall be frozen for a period of six months on admission of application by NCLT. During this time, the NCLT shall listen to the options to revive and decide the future course of action. It is further clarified that unless a resolution plan is made or liquidation process is initiated, no legal claim shall be sought against the corporate debtor in any other forum or Court (Section 14 of IBC, 2016).
- When the application for insolvency is accepted under Section 7/9/10 of IBC, 2016 the NCLT within fourteen days appoints an Insolvency Resolution Professional (IRP) on receiving a confirmation from Board of Insolvency and Bankruptcy.The appointed IP then takes up the responsibility of the debtor’s properties and functioning. He also collects all the information that is relevant with regard to the financial condition of the debtor from information utilities. IP is appointed for a term of thirty days only within which he does all the necessary scrutinization (Section 18, IBC, 2016).
- The next step is to make a public announcement about the commencement of corporate insolvency process so that claims from any other creditors can also come forward, if any. A creditor’s committee is constituted by the IRP post receiving any claims by public announcement (Section 13 of IBC, 2016). In the event any financial creditor is a related party of the defaulting debtor, such a creditor will not have the right to represent, participate or vote in the committee of creditors so constituted by the IP. In order to be a part of the Creditor’s Committee, the average dues of the operational creditors must be at least ten percent of the debt. The Committee of Creditors shall first seven days of its incorporation decide through seventy five percent votes whether the interim IRP should be used as a Resolution Professional or should be replaced with someone else.
- After the Committee finalizes the Resolution Professional he is appointed by the NCLT (Section 16 of IBC, 2016). The Resolution Professional so appointed can be replaced anytime by the Creditor’s Committee with a majority of seventy five percent votes. In the interim, i.e. till the appointed of any new Resolution Professional, the Creditor’s Committee can take decisions with regard to insolvency resolution by seventy five percent majority voting.
- In the event majority (75%) of the financial creditors are of the view that the case is very complex and more time extension is required, the NCLT may grant a one-time extension of up to a maximum of 90 days over and above the pre decided tenure of 180 days. It shall be the sole responsibility of the Resolution Professional to manage and conduct the corporate insolvency resolution procedure during such a term (Section 18 of IBC, 2016).
- To enable the resolution applicant for preparing a resolution plan, the Resolution Professional shall compile a statistics note. A resolution applicant can be defined as an individual who has the duty and responsibility to submit a resolution plan to the Resolution Professional. The Creditor’s Committee further receives the plan from the Resolution Professional for its approval.
- On the resolution being approved, the next step by the Creditor’s Committee is to come up with options on restructuring which can be either coming up with a modified repayment plan or to simply liquidate the properties of the company in order to recover dues. If the Creditor’s Committee fails to take any binding decision with regard to the repayment by the debtor, the debtor’s assets are liquidated in order to pay back the creditors. If there is a plan prepared for resolution, the same shall be sent to NCLT for approval and implementation.
The Supreme Court in Mobilox Innovations Private Limited (“Mobilox“) Vs. Kirusa Software Private Limited (“Kirusa“), considered questions raised as to the triggering of the Code when it comes to debts owed to operational creditors and as to what would constitute a ‘dispute’ entitling the debtor company to have the Adjudicating Authority reject the application.
Kirusa issued a demand notice to Mobilox as an Operational Creditor under the Code, demanding payment of certain dues. Mobilox issued a reply to the demand notice (“Mobilox Reply“) inter alia stating that there exists certain serious and bona fide disputes between the parties and alleged a breach of the terms of a non-disclosure agreement by Kirusa. Kirusa filed an application under Section 9 of the Code (“Application“) before the National Company Law Tribunal, Mumbai (“NCLT“) for initiation of the corporate insolvency resolution process (“CIRP“) against Mobilox. This was dismissed by the NCLT, which expanded the scope of an ‘existing dispute’ under the Code to hold that a valid notice of dispute had been issued by Mobilox.
Kirusa filed an appeal before the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (“NCLAT“), which allowed Kirusa’s appeal and inter alia, held that the notice of dispute does not reveal a genuine dispute between the parties. Mobilox filed an appeal before the Supreme Court impugning the order of the NCLAT.
Brief facts about The Insolvency And Bankruptcy Code, 2016
The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC) was passed by the Parliament on 11 May 2016, received Presidential assent on 28 May 2016 and was notified in the official gazette on the same day.
Erstwhile legislative framework
- Chapter XIX & Chapter XX of Companies Act, 2013
- Part VIA, Part VII & Section 391 of Companies Act, 1956
- RDDBFI Act, 1993
- SARFAESI Act, 2002
- SICA Act, 1985
- The Presidency Towns Insolvency Act, 1909
- The Provincial Insolvency Act, 1920
- Chapter XIII of the LLP Act, 2008
Non-statutory guidelines/out-of-court mechanism:
- Bilateral restructuring
- One-time settlement
- Sale of loan to ARC
The Insolvency and Bankruptcy code (Provisions of this Code to override other existing laws on matters pertaining to Insolvency and Bankruptcy)
“An act to consolidate and amend the laws relating to reorganisation and insolvency resolution of corporate persons, partnership firms and individuals in a time bound manner for maximisation of value of assets of such persons, to promote entrepreneurship, availability of credit and balance the interests of all the stakeholders including alteration in the order of priority of payment of Government dues and to establish an Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India, and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.”
– Objective section of the Act
The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code ecosystem
Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board (IBB)
NCLT – The adjudicating authority (AA)
IBB – apex body for promoting transparency & governance in the administration of the IBC; will be involved in setting up the infrastructure and accrediting IPs & IUs.
IUs – centralised repository of financial and credit information of borrowers; would accept, store, authenticate and provide access to financial data provided by creditors.
IPs– persons enrolled with IPA and regulated by Board and IPA will conduct resolution process; to act as Liquidator/ bankruptcy trustee; appointed by creditors and override the powers of board of directors.
Adjudicating authority (AA) – would be the NCLT for corporate insolvency; to entertain or dispose any insolvency application, approve/ reject resolution plans, decide in respect of claims or matters of law/ facts thereof.
IPA – registered by the board shall enroll IPs.
Corporate Insolvency Resolution and Liquidation
Resolution timeline and process
Corporate insolvency resolution process
Application on default – Any financial or operational creditor(s) can apply for insolvency on default of debt or interest payment
Appointment of IP – IP to be appointed by the regulator and approved by the creditor committee. IP will take over the running of the Company.
From date of appointment of IP, power of Board of directors to be suspended and vested in the IP. IP shall have immunity from criminal prosecution and any other liability for anything done in good faith
Moratorium period – Adjudication authority will declare moratorium period during which no action can be taken against the company or the assets of the company. Key focus will be on running the Company on going concern basis. A Resolution plan would have to be prepared and approved by the Committee of creditors
Credit committee – A credit committee of creditors will be constituted. Related party to be excluded from committee. Each creditor shall vote in accordance to voting share assigned if 75% of creditor approve the resolution plan same needs to be implemented.
Initiation – Failure to approve resolution plan within specified days will cause initiation of Liquidation. Debtor can also opt for voluntary liquidation by a special resolution in a General Meeting.
Liquidator – The IP may act as the liquidator, and exercise all powers of the BoD. The liquidator shall form an estate of the assets, and consolidate, verify, admit and determine value of creditors’ claims.
Order of priority for distribution of assets
- Insolvency related costs
- Secured creditors and workmen dues upto 24 months
- Other employee’s salaries/dues up to 12 months
- Financial debts (unsecured creditors)
- Government dues (up to 2 years)
- Any remaining debts and dues
Key aspects of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code
- IBC proposes a paradigm shift from the existing ‘Debtor in possession’ to a ‘Creditor in control’ regime.
- IBC aims at consolidating all existing insolvency related laws as well as amending multiple legislation including the Companies Act.
- The code would have an overriding effect on all other laws relating to Insolvency & Bankruptcy.
- The code aims to resolve insolvencies in a strict time-bound manner – the evaluation and viability determination must be completed within 180 days.
- Moratorium period of 180 days (extendable upto 270 days) for the Company. Insolvency profressional to take over the managemnent of the Company.
- Clearly defined ‘order of priority‘ or the waterfall mechanism.
- The waterfall to render government dues junior to most others is significant.
- Antecedent tranactions can be investigated and in case of any illegal diversion of assets personal contribution can be ordered by court.
- Introduce a qualified insolvency professional (IP) as intermediaries to oversee the Process
- Establishment of Insolvency and Bankruptcy board as an independent body for the administration and governance of Insolvency & bankruptcy Law; and Information Utilities as a depository of financial information.
The Code, at best, is a plan currently awaiting execution. Appropriate information-flow, establishment of a tribunal process and the provision to bring in responsible professionals. The Ministry of Finance has indicated that they are aiming to make IBC operational by 31 March 2017.
The IBC envisages a “creditor in control” regime with financial creditors exercising control through IPs in the event of a single default in repayment of any loan or interest. This can be effected without any notice and the law is very stringent as compared to the SARFAESI Act, 2002. As a result, stressed/ distressed corporates need to implement an accurate cash flow forecasting mechanism to identify mismatches of inflows with commitments on a timely basis. If there is a possibility of a potential default that can trigger IBC, an effective turnaround plan should be devised and communicated to all stakeholders in advance – including financial and operating creditors, employees, etc. Such a plan should include aspects of financial restructuring, operational improvement and sale of assets which can be monetised.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.