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First Lustrum for the PhD Workshop on European and International Insolvency Law

On Wednesday 19 and Thursday 20 April 2023, the Foundation Bob Wessels Insolvency Law Collection (BWILC) organised its fifth PhD Workshop on European and International Insolvency Law.

After receiving an overwhelming number of applications, ten PhD candidates from various universities across Europe and beyond were invited by BWILC to present and discuss their latest research in a specially designed environment aimed at enhancing their academic talents.

Following the success of its prior editions, the workshop was held in person, providing participants with the opportunity to network and engage with experts in the field. This year's workshop was especially significant, as it marked the first lustrum of the event. Overall, the workshop provided an excellent forum to exchange knowledge, ideas, and experiences on very diverse but critical issues in insolvency law in the presence of esteemed colleagues and experienced professors.

Exploring Key Issues in Insolvency Law: From Sovereign Debts to Consumer Bankruptcy

The PhD Workshop opened with Fabian Kratzlmeier (University of Regensburg, Germany) delivering a thought-provoking presentation on the regulatory competition among European restructuring frameworks. He argued that the current EU harmonisation falls short, and that private international law plays a crucial role in shaping this competition. The following speaker, Giulia Pancioli (University of Ferrara, Italy), explored the potential benefits of workers buyouts through the Italian regulatory lens. She underscored the benefits of a social approach to insolvency and advocated for further European harmonisation in this area.

Matthew Chippin's (University of Leeds, UK) poster presentation followed, in which he compared the differences and similarities of the anti-deprivation rule in Canada and the UK. Charles Ho Wang Mak (University of Glasgow, UK) then shifted the discussion to States and sovereign debt. He stressed the problem caused by a lack of an effective international legal framework and the advantages that a model law would bring to sovereign debt restructuring. The first day of PhD presentations concluded with Marinela Majnova (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia) giving a stimulating presentation on the necessity of consumer bankruptcy laws in the Balkan countries. Through her mixed methodology and the presentation of persuasive quantitative evidence, she made a convincing case for the potential benefits of implementing such laws in the Balkan.

The first day culminated with the second BWILC lecture, this year given by Dr. Jonatan Schytzer (University of Uppsala, Sweden). He expounded on the critical role of the environment in bankruptcy proceedings. Schytzer’s insightful presentation emphasized the need for introducing ex-ante measures to ensure corporate accountability before insolvency, and to prevent that in the end it is the State who will bear the entire responsibility for environmental claims.

Navigating the Intricacies of Harmonising European Restructuring and Insolvency Law

The second day of the Workshop commenced with the presentation of Monika Masnicka (University of Gdańsk, Poland) examining whether the 'Polish prepared liquidation procedure' could be regarded as a pre-pack procedure. She provided an overview of the Polish procedure and contrasted it with the recent Commission’s Proposal for harmonsation of certain aspects of European insolvency law (EC Proposal), as well as the Dutch and UK regimes. Guillem Gabriel Pizarro (European University Institute, Italy) furthered the discussion on this EC Proposal, evaluating the EU insolvency harmonisation project and its treatment of Intellectual Property licenses in restructurings. Combing a legal comparative and a law and economics approach, he analysed the proposed treatment of IP licenses in pre-packs, weighing both its benefits and drawbacks for when the insolvent is a debtor or creditor.

Eirini Tsikrika’s (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece) presentation on the principles of cross-border insolvency followed, with a focus on the vis attractiva concursus and the challenges it poses in the European context. In her final remarks, she underlined the practical obstacles associated with this principle and encouraged the need to reconsider supplementary jurisdictional rules. Emanuele Stabile (University of Rome, Italy) concluded the round of presentations analysing the treatment of fresh money in Italian reorganising procedures. He shed light on the European and American influence on the Italian treatment of fresh money, offering valuable insights into current practices and potential solutions.

The closing of the Workshop was marked by the unveiling of the new BWILC Website and the Wessels Digital Repository. The Repository aims to make out of the over 1.600 publications of Prof. Em. Bob Wessels all papers available online. This initiative provides a valuable resource for legal scholars, researchers, and practitioners around the world by offering easy access to a vast collection of scholarly works.

Recognition for outstanding presentations

To commemorate the milestone of the fifth edition of the PhD workshop, all participants were invited to attend a conference organised by the Conference on European Restructuring and Insolvency Law (CERIL) on Harmonisation of EU Insolvency Law. This conference, which was held after the PhD workshop on Thursday 20 and Friday 21 April 2023 provided an excellent chance for participants to gain additional insights into the latest EU developments on the recent EC Proposal.

It was at this conference that this year’s prizes for the PhD Workshop – as selected by the BWILC board, comprising Prof. Matthias Haentjens, Prof. Reinout Vriesendorp, Prof. Stephan Madaus, Prof. Joeri Vananroye, and Dr. Paul Omar – were announced. During the conference dinner, Prof. Em. Bob Wessels, patron to the Foundation, presented the awards. The first prize was awarded to Guillem Gabriel Pizarro. Eirini Tsikrika was awarded the second prize and a shared third prize was awarded to Fabian Kratzlmeier and Marinela Majnova. Matthew Chippin received the prize for delivering the most appealing poster presentation.

Platform for academic exchange

The BWILC PhD Workshop was an exceptional forum for participants to showcase and discuss their doctoral research in an open and friendly setting. The workshop's small size provided an ideal platform for early-career scholars to connect with peers who shared similar stages of their academic journey, nurturing an environment that supported academic development and enabled constructive feedback on new research ideas. As such, the BWILC has announced its 6th PhD Workshop, scheduled for Spring 2024, which promises to be another outstanding opportunity for doctoral students to advance their research and career.

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