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The Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code, 2016

Earlier Insolvency Regimes in India:
Prior to the enactment of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (the “Insolvency Code”) the existing framework was governed by:-

  • The Companies Act, 1956 and the Companies Act, 2013;
  • The Sick Industrial Companies (Special Provisions) Act, 1985;
  • The Recovery of Debts Due to Banks and Financial Institutions (“RDDBFI”) Act, 1993;
  • The Securitization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest (“SARFAESI”) Act, 2003;[1]
  • The Presidency Towns Insolvency Act, 1909 and the Provincial Insolvency Act, 1920;
  • Regulations, directions, circulars, rules, notifications, and guidelines of the Reserve Bank of India (“RBI”).

Benefits of this code:

  • Previously, four different forums—High Courts, Company Law Board (CLB), Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR), and Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT)—have overlapping jurisdiction, which gives rise to systemic delays and complexities in the process. The code overcomes these challenges and would reduce the burden on the courts as all litigation will be filed under the code before the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) for corporate insolvency and insolvency of LLPs, and before DRT for individual insolvency and insolvency of unlimited partnership firms.
  • The code could ensure quicker resolution of NPA problems.
  • Bankruptcy laws accept that business ventures can fail and allow entrepreneurs to make a new start.

Objectives of the Code:
An Act to consolidate and amend the laws relating to reorganization and insolvency resolution of corporate persons, partnership firms, and individuals in a time-bound manner for maximization 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 (IBBI), and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

Application:

The provisions of this code shall apply to:
(a) any company incorporated under the Companies Act, 2013 or under any previous company law;
(b) any other company governed by any special Act for the time being in force.
(c) any Limited Liability Partnership incorporated under the Limited Liability Partnership Act, 2008;
(d) such other body incorporated under any law for the time being in force, as the Central Government may, by notification, specify in this behalf; and
(e) partnership firms and individuals,
in relation to their insolvency, liquidation, voluntary liquidation or bankruptcy, as the case may be.

IBC – The complete CODE: Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code 2016 has been divided into five parts:

Part-I: Preliminary
Part-II: Insolvency resolution & liquidation for Corporate persons
Part-III: Insolvency resolution & bankruptcy for Individuals & partnership firms
Part-IV: Regulations of insolvency professionals, agencies & information utilities
Part-V: Miscellaneous

PART-II: Insolvency Resolution and Liquidation for Corporate Persons

  • 4: Application of this part: Apply to matters relating to the insolvency and liquidation of corporate debtors where the minimum amount of the default is one crore rupees:
  • Definition of ‘Corporate Debtors’: Corporate debtors means a Company, LLP or any person incorporated with limited liability under any law for time being in force but not include financial service provider (Corporate Person)who owes a debt to any person (Individual, HUF, Company, Trust, Partnership, LLP, any other entity established under any statute, Person resident outside India)

Sec. 6: Persons who may initiate corporate insolvency resolution process.

  • Where any corporate debtor commits a default, a financial creditor, an operational creditor or the corporate debtor itself may initiate corporate insolvency resolution process (CIRP) in respect of such corporate debtor.
  • Definitions:
  • financial creditor” means any person to whom a financial debt is owed and includes a person to whom such debt has been legally assigned or transferred;
  • operational creditor” means a person to whom an operational debt is owed and includes any person to whom such debt has been legally assigned or transferred;

Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process
The process consists of the following phases:-

Initiation of the corporate insolvency resolution process (“Phase I”): Phase I of the corporate insolvency process deals with the following:-
1) Filing of the applications with the NCLT;
2) Admission or rejection of the application;
3) In case of rejection, the NCLT may allow the applicant to make changes and/or revisions to the     application and re–apply. On re-application, the NCLT may admit or reject the application.

  • Phase I for the different types of applicants who can trigger the corporate insolvency process are different. The timelines and the process broadly, for Phase I, relating to the different types of applicants who can trigger the corporate insolvency process are provided below:-

Sec.7 to 10: Initiation of corporate insolvency resolution process by financial creditor/Operational Creditor/Corporate Applicant.

Sec. 11: Persons not entitled to make application

  1. a corporate debtor undergoing a corporate insolvency resolution process; or
  2. a corporate debtor having completed corporate insolvency resolution process twelve months preceding the date of making of the application; or
  3. a corporate debtor or a financial creditor who has violated any of the terms of resolution plan which was approved twelve months before the date of making of an application under this Chapter; or
  4. a corporate debtor in respect of whom a liquidation order has been made.

Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (Sec. 12 to 32): Phase-II

Sec. 12: Time limit for completion of CIRP.

The corporate Insolvency Resolution Process shall be completed within 180 days from the date of admission of the application. NCLT may by order extend the duration not exceeding 90 days.The extension shall not be granted more than once.

Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process:

  • 13: Declaration of moratorium and public announcement

NCLT, after admission of the application, by an order –

  • Declare a moratorium on new and pending suits and enforcement of security interests.
  • Cause a public announcement and call for submission of claims.
  • Appoint an interim resolution professional.

Public announcement shall be made immediately after the appointment of an interim resolution professional.

  • 14: Moratorium

NCLT shall by order declare a moratorium for prohibiting the following –

  • The institution of suits or continuation of pending suits or proceedings against the corporate debtor
  • transferring/ encumbering/ disposing of by the corporate debtor any of its assets or any legal right or beneficial interest therein
  • any action to foreclose, recover or enforce any security interest created by the corporate debtor in respect of its property including any action under the SARFAESI Act, 2003
  • the recovery of any property by an owner or lessor where such property is occupied by or in the possession of the corporate debtor
  • 15: Public Announcement

 Public announcement of the corporate insolvency resolution process shall contain the subsequent information –

  • Name & address of the corporate debtor
  • Name of the authority with which the corporate debtor is registered
  • Last date for submission of claims
  • Details of interim resolution professional who shall be vested with the management of the corporate debtor and be responsible for receiving claims
  • Penalties for false/ misleading claims
  • Date on which the CIRP shall close

Sec.16: Appointment and tenure of interim resolution professional

> NCLT shall appoint an interim resolution professional within 14 days from the insolvency commencement date.

> Where an application for CIRP is made by a financial creditor or corporate debtor, resolution professional as proposed that time, shall be appointed as interim resolution professional if no disciplinary proceedings are pending against him.

> Where an application for CIRP is made by the operational creditor and no proposal for an interim resolution professional is made, NCLT shall make a reference to the Board for the recommendation of an insolvency professional who may act as an interim resolution professional.

> The Board shall, within ten days of the receipt of a reference from NCLT, recommend the name of an insolvency professional to NCLT against whom no disciplinary proceedings are pending.

> Term of interim resolution professional shall not exceed 30 days from date of his appointment

Sec. 17: Management of affairs of corporate debtor by interim resolution professional (IRP).

> From the date of appointment of IRP, –

  • The management of the affairs of the corporate debtor shall vest in IRP
  • the powers of the board of directors or the partners of the corporate debtor, as per the situation, shall stand suspended and be exercised by IRP
  • the officers and managers of the corporate debtor shall report to IRP and provide access to documents and records of the corporate debtor
  • the financial institutions maintaining accounts of the corporate debtor shall act on the instructions of IRP in relation to such accounts and furnish all information relating to the corporate debtor.

Sec. 18: Duties of IRP

  • Collect all information relating to the assets, finances, and operations of the corporate debtor for determining the financial position of the corporate debtor.
  • receive and collate all the claims submitted by creditors.
  • constitute a committee of creditors.
  • monitor the assets of the corporate debtor and manage its operations until a resolution professional is appointed by the committee of creditors
  • file information collected with the information utility.
  • take control and custody of any asset over which the corporate debtor has ownership rights.

Sec. 19: Personnel to extend co-operation to IRP

> The personnel of the corporate debtor, its promoters, or any other person associated with the management of the corporate debtor shall extend all assistance and cooperation to the interim resolution professional as required by him in managing the affairs of the corporate debtor.

Sec. 20: Management of operations of the corporate debtor as going concerned

To preserve the worth of the property of the corporate debtor and manage the operations of the corporate debtor as a going concern, IRP shall have the authority to –

  • appoint accountants, legal or other professionals
  • enter into contracts or to amend/modify the contracts which were entered into before the commencement of the corporate insolvency resolution process
  • raise interim finance
  • issue instructions to personnel of the corporate debtor.

Sec. 21: Committee of creditors

> IRP shall after collation of all claims received against the corporate debtor and determination of the financial position of the corporate debtor, constitute a committee of creditors.

> The committee of creditors shall comprise all financial creditors of the corporate debtor.

> Related party to whom a corporate debtor owes a financial debt shall not have any right of representation, participation, or voting in a meeting of the committee of creditors

> All decisions of the committee of creditors shall be taken by a vote of not less than 75% of the voting share of the financial creditors.

Sec. 22: Appointment of Resolution Professional (RP)

> The first meeting of the committee of creditors shall be held within 7 days of the constitution of the committee of creditors.

> The committee of creditors, may, in the first meeting either resolve to appoint IRP as RP or to replace IRP with another RP.

Sec. 23: RP to conduct CIRP

> RP shall conduct the entire CIRP and manage the operations of the corporate debtor.

> RP shall exercise powers and perform duties as are vested or conferred on IRP.

Sec. 24: Meeting of committee of creditors[i]

> The members of the committee of creditors may meet in person or by electronic means.
> All meetings of the committee of creditors shall be conducted by RP.
>  The directors, partners, and one representative of operational creditors may attend the meetings of the committee of creditors, but shall not have any right to vote in such meetings
>  Each creditor shall vote in accordance with the voting share assigned to him based on the financial debts owed to such creditor.

Sec. 25: Duties of RP

> To preserve and protect the assets of the corporate debtor, including the continued business operations of the corporate debtor, RP shall undertake the following actions –

1) take immediate custody and control of all the assets
2) represent and act on behalf of the corporate debtor with third parties, exercise rights for the benefit  of the corporate debtor in judicial, quasi-judicial, or arbitration proceedings
3) raise interim finances
4) appoint accountants, legal or other professionals
5) maintain an updated list of claims
6) convene and attend all meetings of the committee of creditors
7) invite prospective lenders, investors, and other persons to place resolution plans
8) present all resolution plans at the meetings of the committee of creditors
9) file application for the avoidance of transactions
10) Prepare information memorandum

Sec. 26: Application for avoidance of transactions not to affect proceedings
The filing of an avoidance application by the resolution professional shall not affect the proceedings of the corporate insolvency resolution process.

Sec. 27: Replacement of RP by a committee of creditors
Where, at any time during the CIRP, the committee of creditors is of the opinion that an RP appointed under section 22 is required to get replaced, he can replace the existing RP with another RP.

Sec. 28: Approval of committee of creditors for certain actions
RP shall not take any of the following actions without prior approval of the committee of creditors:

  1. a) raise any interim finance
    b) create any interest over the assets of the corporate debtor
    c) change the capital structure
    d) record any change within the ownership interest
    e) give instructions to financial institutions maintaining accounts of the corporate debtor for a debit transaction from any such accounts more than the amount earlier decided
    f) undertake any related party transaction
    g) amend any constitutional documents
    h)delegate its authority to any other person
    i) eliminate of or permit the disposal of shares of any shareholder of the corporate debtor or their nominees to any other third parties
    j) make any change in the management of the corporate debtor or its subsidiary
    k) transfer rights or financial debts or operational debts under material contracts otherwise than in the ordinary course of business
    l) make changes in the appointment or terms of the contract of such personnel
    m)make changes in the appointment or terms of the contract of statutory auditors or internal auditors

Sec. 29: Preparation of information memorandum

> The resolution professional shall prepare an information memorandum containing relevant information as may be specified by the Board for formulating a resolution plan. The resolution professional shall provide to the resolution applicant access to all relevant information in physical and electronic form.

Sec. 30: Submission of resolution plan

A resolution applicant may put forward a resolution plan to the RP prepared on the basis of the information suggested in the memorandum. The RP shall submit the resolution plan as approved by the committee of creditors to NCLT.

Sec. 31: Approval of resolution plan

If NCLT is satisfied, it shall by order approve the resolution plan which shall be binding on the corporate debtor and its employees, members, creditors, guarantors, and other stakeholders involved in the resolution plan.

Corporate Liquidation Process (Sec. 33 to Sec. 54)
As per the Insolvency Code, the corporate liquidation process is to be initiated on the occurrence of the following:-

  • Expiry of the Resolution Period (180 days; extendable by 90 days) and no resolution plans have been received;
  • NCLT rejects the resolution plan;
  • Prior to approval of the resolution process, by order of NCLT on intimation by the committee of creditors;
  • Application by the affected person(s) on the contravention of the approved resolution plan.

Corporate Liquidation Process

Position of a secured creditor in liquidation:

  • A Secured Creditor can relinquish its security interest to the liquidation estate and receive proceeds from the sale of assets by the liquidator
  • Realize its security in the manner specified in the code.
  • If the secured creditor realizes security interest, he shall inform the liquidator and identify the asset subject to such security interest.
  • Liquidator to verify security interest by record maintained by Information Utility or any other means as may be specified and permit the secured creditor to realize only such security interest as provable.
  • A secured creditor may enforce, realize, settle, compromise or deal with the secured assets in accordance with the law to recover its dues and incase it faces resistance from Corporate Debtor or any person connected therewith in taking possession or, selling/ disposing of the secured asset it may apply to NCLT to facilitate secured creditor to realize such security interest in accordance with the law for the time being in force and NCLT may pass such order as necessary to permit a secured creditor to realize security interest in accordance with the law.
  • If the amount realized by the secured creditor is more than its dues, the surplus shall be credited to the account of the liquidator.
  • If the amount realized by the secured creditor is less than its dues, the remaining debt shall be paid by the liquidator as per this Code.
  • The insolvency costs or liquidation costs shall be realized from the proceeds of such sale of assets by the secured creditor.
  • Conduct of Liquidation: The liquidation shall be conducted as follows:-
  1. Appointment of the liquidator by order of NCLT;
  2. Declaration of a moratorium on initiation of suits by the NCLT;
  3. Discharge of officers, employees, and workmen shall be discharged, except when the business of the corporate debtor is continued;
  4. Issuance of the public announcement;
  5. Formation of liquidation estate;
  6. Collection, verification, acceptance, and/or rejection of claims;
  7. Orders by NCLT for cancellation of avoidable transactions etc.;
  8. Monetization of assets and distribution of proceeds;
  9. Dissolution of the corporate debtor.
  • Liquidation estate shall comprise of –
  • any assets over which the corporate debtor has ownership rights
  • assets that may or may not be in possession of the corporate debtor including but not limited to encumbered assets
  • tangible assets, whether movable or immovable
  • intangible assets
  • assets subject to the determination of ownership by the court
  • any asset of the corporate debtor in respect of which a secured creditor has relinquished security interest
  • all proceeds of liquidation as and when they are realized
  • Distribution of Assets: The proceeds from the sale of the liquidation estate shall be distributed in accordance with the following waterfall mechanism/order of priority:-
  • The insolvency resolution process costs and liquidation costs;
  • The following debts shall rank equally between and among the following:-
  • Workmen’s dues for the period of twenty – four months preceding the liquidation commencement date;
  • Debts owed to a secured creditor in the event such secured creditor has relinquished security in the manner as provided under the Insolvency Code;
  • Wages and any unpaid dues owed to employees other than workmen for the period of twelve months preceding to the liquidation commencement date; Financial debts owed to unsecured creditors;
  • The following dues rank equally between and among the following:-
  • Any amount due to the State Government and the Central Government in respect of the whole or any part of the period of two years prior to the liquidation commencement date;
  • Debts owed to a secured creditor for any amount unpaid following the enforcement of security interest;
  • Any remaining dues and debts;
  • Preference shareholders, if any; and
  • Equity shareholders or partners, as the case may be.

Fast Track Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (Sec. 55 to Sec. 58)

  • The Insolvency Code further prescribes a fast-track corporate insolvency process for the entities with less complex structuring or businesses.
  • fast track process shall apply to the following categories of corporate debtors:
  • A small company, as defined under clause (85) of section 2 of the Companies Act, 2013; or
  • A Startup (other than the partnership firm), as defined in the notification dated 23rd May, 2017 of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry; or
  • An unlisted company with total assets, as reported in the financial statement of the immediately preceding financial year, not exceeding Rs.1 crore.
  • The fast track corporate insolvency process will be required to be completed within a period of 90 days with a one–time extension of 45 days.

Voluntary Liquidation of Corporate Persons (Sec. 59)

  • A corporate person who intends to liquidate itself voluntarily and has not committed any default may initiate voluntary liquidation proceedings.
  • Voluntary liquidation proceedings of a corporate person registered as a company shall meet the following conditions, namely:
  • Declaration from the majority of directors, verified by an affidavit stating that –

(i) they have made a full inquiry into the affairs of the company and they have formed an opinion that either the company has no debt or that it will be able to pay its debts in full from the proceeds of assets to be sold in the voluntary liquidation; and

(ii) the company is not being liquidated to defraud any person

Voluntary Liquidation of Corporate Persons

  • Above declaration shall be accompanied with –
  1. audited financial statements and records of business operations of the company for the previous two years
  2. a report of the valuation of the assets of the company.
  • Within 4 weeks of declaration, company has to pass a special resolution of the members of the company in a general meeting requiring the company to be liquidated voluntarily and appointing an insolvency professional to act as the liquidator.
  • If the company owes any debt to any person, creditors representing two-thirds in value of the debt of the company shall approve the resolution passed within seven days of such resolution.
  • Notify the Registrar of Companies and the Board about the resolution to liquidate the company within seven days of such resolution.
  • The provisions of sections 35 to 53 shall apply to voluntary liquidation proceedings for corporate persons with such modifications as may be necessary.
  • Where the affairs of the corporate person have been completely wound up, and its assets completely liquidated, the liquidator shall make an application to the NCLT for the dissolution of such corporate person.
  • NCLT shall pass an order that the corporate debtor shall be dissolved from the date of that order and the corporate debtor shall be dissolved accordingly.
  • A copy of an order, shall within fourteen days from the date of such order, be forwarded to the authority with which the corporate person is registered.

REFERENCES

 

Article by- Anklesh Mahunta, Legal Intern at Prime Legal

Article reviewed by Riti Gupta, Legal Assistant at Prime Legal

 

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