Government’s Insolvency Service hosts research conference at Liverpool Law School

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Delegates listening to a speaker at the Forward Thinking Conference

On Friday 10th November 2023, the Government’s Insolvency Service hosted their annual ‘Forward Thinking’ insolvency law and policy research conference at the University of Liverpool’s Liverpool Law School. The event was a tremendous success, with delegates converging on Liverpool from far and wide to discuss all things insolvency.

In addition to the in-person delegates at the Spine conference venue in Liverpool, there were 544 online attendees listening to the policy and legal debates. The audience was treated to a range of fantastic papers from the leading figures in insolvency academia, policy, and the professions.

John Tribe (Liverpool) and Paul Bannister (Head of Policy at the Insolvency Service)

Dr John Tribe (University of Liverpool) and Paul Bannister (Head of Policy at the Insolvency Service)

Following introductory remarks from Paul Bannister, Head of Policy at the Insolvency Service and Mark Austen, the Chair of the Insolvency Service Board, the University of Liverpool’s Professor Fiona Beveridge, Pro-Vice Chancellor, welcomed the delegates to the Spine, with its magnificent views over Liverpool and the Merseyside City Region.

Highlights of the day included a panel session on the Rule in Gibbs featuring Professor Irit Mevorach of the University of Warwick, Dr. Riz Mokal, sometime Professor of Law and Theory at University College London, now a barrister at South Square, Professor Sarah Patterson of the London School of Economics and Political Science, and Professor Gerard McCormack of the University of Leeds.

Professor Sarah Patterson (LSE), Dr. Riz Mokal (South Square), and Professor Irit Mevorach (Warwick) at the Forward Thinking Conference

Professor Sarah Patterson (LSE), Dr Riz Mokal (South Square) and Professor Irit Mevorach (University of Warwick)

Professor Andrew Keay of the University of Leeds and Professor Pete Walton of the University of Wolverhampton provided a fascinating interrogation of corporate insolvency statistics and what these mean for procedure use going forward.

Dr Bolanle Adebola of the University of Reading gave a fascinating paper on administrative receivership and administration from a comparative perspective.

Delegates listening to a speaker at the Forward Thinking Conference

Dr Bolanle Adebola (University of Reading) delivers the 'Diversifying Rescue: Corporate Rescue and the Models of Receivership' session

The late morning panel session included papers on the pre-pack pool, the Financial Conduct Authority’s new consumer duty, and a thorough discussion of energy company insolvencies from fee earners at Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP.

The last excellent panel of the day featured Dr Neeti Shikha of the University of Bradford and Professor Rebecca Parry of Nottingham Trent University. They addressed disqualification and education of directors.

A delegate examines a copy of the original case papers from Solomons v. Ross

A delegate examines a copy of the original case papers from Solomons v. Ross, during the Rule in Gibbs panel session

In summarising the day, the Government’s Insolvency Service said: “It's been an outstanding Forward Thinking insolvency conference, with too many highlights to pick from. Enormous thanks to our excellent hosts the University of Liverpool and the School of Law and Social Justice… our incredible panels, the very engaged delegates, and to the conference organisers from our Agency.”

One circuit judge attendee said: “It was an extremely interesting programme of presentations delivered by an impressive array of speakers and attended by a good range of delegates.” Delegate Dr John Wood of Lancaster University said: “Great speakers, very informative and well organised. I look forward to the next one.”

Delegates listening to speaker at the Forward Thinking Conference

A pre-conference dinner was attended by academics from, inter alia, the Universities of Warwick, LSE, Liverpool, Reading and UCL, as well as a bankruptcy judge and the CEO of R3, the Association of Business Recovery Professionals. No less than four of the late Professor Ian F. Fletcher’s QC's old Ph.D. students were in attendance.

A full recording of the day will be available shortly on the Forward Thinking Conference web page.