Restructuring & Insolvency: 2022 Year in Review
Our Restructuring & Insolvency Team reflects on the year, the industry trends and significant matters of 2022. The Team also looks forward as to what the next 12 months may have in store.
“Our team’s strength is in its people and our collective expertise and in the relationships we build with our clients from that. Our national team continues to work collaboratively across state borders with Piper Alderman’s other practice groups including Finance, Corporate, Property and Construction in delivering bespoke solutions to what are often complex commercial issues and disputes. I am proud to be part of a team that is recognised as trusted advisers and leaders in their field!”
Michael Lhuede – Practice Team leader
The newly elected Federal Government has launched what has been a long called for inquiry into our national corporate insolvency laws. While it is unlikely this process will see substantial reform within the next 12 months it is a first step in what the industry hopes will see a modernisation and simplification of our corporate (and hopefully personal insolvency) laws. Our team members continue to be actively involved in the reform process through their membership of both the Law Council of Australia’s Insolvency and Reconstruction Committee and on the National and State Committees of the Australian Restructuring Insolvency and Turnaround Association.
We foresee continuing stress in particular industries especially the construction industry. We continue to work closely with our colleagues in our Property and Construction Group in addressing the challenges facing stakeholders in this industry as they deal with the ongoing failure of major players within the industry.
We are also seeing increased activity in the non-bank lending space particularly in property development financing. This is seeing more private appointment receiverships giving rise to distressed sales in the property development space. We continue to work closely with our Finance and Property teams in assisting our clients in this space.
Corporate insolvencies generally have been quiet over the past 12 months with little impetus for directors to take steps to resolve issues of insolvency within their businesses. However, with the ATO finally starting to move on burgeoning delinquency taxation payments, this is not likely to last much longer.
Bankruptcy and personal insolvency over this time has seen more activity and continues to generate a steady flow of work. Our industry acknowledged expertise in this niche field continues to see our team engaged in complex and profile administrations.
The team welcomed Mark Doble as a Partner in our Sydney office this year. We also celebrated a number of team promotions including Michael Mournehis (Senior Associate, Sydney), Jay Coverdale (Associate, Melbourne), and Jesse Dwyer (Associate, Sydney). Cristian Sotelo who has worked as a law clerk and graduate in our Sydney team since 2020 has also been admitted as a solicitor. We are excited to see our team continue to deliver excellent service to our clients.
Throughout the year, we continued to represent and advise our clients, across various industries and issues, including:
Acting for the Liquidator appointed by Federal Court on application of ASIC to wind up following alleged breaches of AFSL. Judgement of Justice Beach delivered 9 December 2022.
Korda Mentha – FTX Australia & FTX Express Administrations
Acting for the voluntary administrators of the Australian arm of the collapsed US based online trading platform in digital assets/cryptocurrency.
Red River Resources Limited (RVR)
Acted for RVR in relation to the collapse of one of its subsidiaries, Cromarty Resources Pty Ltd (admin. appointed), the operator of a mine in far north Queensland.
Rabobank Australia Ltd
Acting for Rabobank in a series of successful agri work outs.
Acting for the directors and company of the collapsed residential home builder Snowdon Developments.
Nicola Garrett and Samuel Renauf
Acting for two private individuals (of six active defendants) in connection with a dispute arising out of the insolvency of Ashington Capital Pty Limited (in liquidation) and Ashington who were being pursued for damages in excess of $140,000,000. Judgment was entered against them for nominal damages of $100 each in February 2022, and a costs order made in their favour, including against a third party, in May 2022.
Unity Mining Pty Ltd
Acting for a secured creditor, Unity Mining Pty Ltd, in respect of security interests over property of a Company, initially in administration and subsequently in liquidation.
Trustee in the Bankrupt Estate of Prudence Aunger
Acting for the Trustee in the bankrupt estate of Prudence Aunger, Philip V. Martino and his solicitor, Hailey Varner of Quarles & Brady LLP in Chicago, Illinois in regard to an asset in the Bankrupt Estate being a property in Adelaide.
Philip Campbell-Wilson, Grant Thornton
Acting for liquidators of Subzero Group of companies. The Group is a leading mining services business based in the Hunter Valley, which provides structural, mechanical and mining support service.
Acting for the Administrator of a group of companies with respect to his appointment as Receiver and Manager of trust assets, and entry by the companies into a pooled deed of company arrangement.
Integra Restructuring and Insolvency
Acting for the receiver and manager of assets of a trust to recover debts owed to the trust in which the Court made findings in relation to the application of section 553C set off in connection with trust liabilities.
This year, we have had some outstanding recognition – both for the team and our individuals – across our national Restructuring and Insolvency practice team. We are grateful for our clients and colleagues and are looking forward to another successful year in 2023.
The Legal 500 Asia Pacific
In the 2022 edition of The Legal 500 Asia Pacific, Piper Alderman was recognised across 12 areas of law including Restructuring and Insolvency.
The Best Lawyers in Australia
In the 2023 edition of The Best Lawyers in Australia, 52 of Piper Alderman’s lawyers are recognised across 42 legal areas including the following partners in our Restructuring and Insolvency team:
- Joanne Hardwick – Insolvency and Reorganisation Law, Litigation, Alternative Dispute Resolution
- Michael Lhuede – Insolvency and Reorganisation Law
- Louise Thompson – Insolvency and Reorganisation Law, Alternative Dispute Resolution
- Antony Disciscio – Alternative Dispute Resolution – One to Watch
In the 2022 rankings for Doyle’s Guide, Thomas Russell and Michael Lhuede were recognised as a Leading Insolvency & Restructuring Lawyers in New South Wales and Victoria respectively. Joanne Hardwick was also Recommended.
We were also delighted to receive some very kind feedback from clients and contacts during the research process for the legal directories, including:
‘Flexibility and ability to make decisions, provide advice on the fly, so to speak.’ (Legal 500 Asia-Pacific, 2022)
‘Michael Lhuede – very knowledgeable and has a willingness and ability to assist.’ (Legal 500 Asia-Pacific, 2022)
‘The partners of Piper Alderman provide strong technical and commercial skills in the area of insolvency and reconstruction.’ (Legal 500 Asia-Pacific, 2022)
‘A true expertise in bankruptcy. A real focus on technical insolvency law. Strong in the mid-market.’ (Legal 500 Asia-Pacific, 2022)
‘The Piper Alderman team has a wide range of skills in the restructuring and insolvency space, ranging from commercial to technical and as such can assist an insolvency practitioner with almost every situation.’ (Legal 500 Asia-Pacific, 2022)
The Restructuring & Insolvency team actively produced and published a number of timely insights while partaking in a multitude of client and industry facing events, sponsorships, and partnerships.
A cornerstone of 2022 was the team’s Personal Insolvency Forum (PIF) event series hosted by Mike Hayes. The series kicked off in March with the Annual Seminar hosted jointly by Piper Alderman and Adelaide University. The presenters at the seminar included national academics and a presentation on equity by Mike Hayes. The further forums considered the criminal conduct of bankrupts, intellectual property in bankruptcy and culminated in a case update by some of our national insolvency partners. The seminar and forums were presented in-person and online.
Recent comments from attendees include:
‘A very good session! Good format & well done!’
‘Thank you for the excellent seminar. Each presentation was topical and highly relevant for RT’s.’
Our members continue to provide pro bono services in deserving hardship cases relevant to their field. Cases in the past 12 months have included:
- Successfully defending a claim against a single unemployed mother of 3 young children threatened with eviction from her house following her separation from her partner, and his subsequent bankruptcy. He had fraudulently signed a guarantee and charge in her name to a non-bank lender and she was being pursued for a debt thereunder.
- Successfully resolving a claim by a non-bank lender against an elderly woman with material health issues in circumstances where she had been defrauded by a third party in granting a mortgage over her home.