The Law of Corporate Insolvency

This information is for the 2013/14 session.


This course is available on the BA in Anthropology and Law and LLB in Laws. This course is not available as an outside option nor to General Course students.

Course content

The Law of Corporate Insolvency forms an increasingly important legal arena, which is now recognised as meriting study in its own right. The last twenty years has seen great strides in the development of corporate insolvency law in England. We have seen the adoption of an enhanced legislative framework and the development of conceptual aspects and jurisprudence of the subject. As the recession of the early 1990's eased off there was a period of reflection and assessment of our insolvency law and procedures. This culminated in major insolvency law reform and legislative changes – reforms which will be well-tested (and debated) in the current times of financial instability.

The course looks at the legal rules affecting distressed and insolvent companies and those concerned with them (for example, creditors, directors and employees) and it assesses the issues and principles underlying a corporate insolvency regime. (Corporate Insolvency Law bears a close relationship to the Law of Business Associations (BA) and students may find that taking BA as well as Corporate Insolvency will give them a broad understanding of major themes relating to corporate activity.)

Outline Syllabus

The Role and Objectives of Corporate Insolvency Procedures
(a) Introduction: Aims and Objectives
(b) The Legal Identity of the Enterprise, the Significance of Limited Liability and the Problem of Corporate Groups
(c) Outline of Procedures available
(d) Insolvency Practitioners/Turnaround Professionals

Corporate Borrowing
(a) Outline of corporate borrowing and development and nature of security interests: fixed and floating charges; security by the use of ownership rights.
(b) Types of creditor.

Averting Liquidation: Rescue
(a) Rescue Procedures I
Causes of corporate failure: the decision to rescue or wind-up.

Informal Rescues.
(b) Rescue Procedures II

Receiverships – a continuing role?; Administration Orders; Liability of Receivers and Administrators; Comparisons with US Bankruptcy Code Ch.11; Voluntary Arrangements; Role of Creditors and Management.

(a) Winding-Up and Control of Procedures
(b) Gathering-In the Assets: setting aside transactions; the pari passu principle; preferential claims; unsecured creditors
(c) Secured creditors
(d) Security devices for consumer creditors and commercial suppliers

Repercussions of Corporate Insolvency on Individuals
(a) Company Directors
(b) Employees

The European and International Dimension
Bankruptcy Convention of EU – the road to a universal bankruptcy system for member states? International cooperation on insolvency matters and reciprocal assistance between insolvency courts.


20 hours of seminars in the MT. 20 hours of seminars in the LT. 6 hours of seminars in the ST.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 2 essays in the MT and LT.

Students will be expected to prepare for participation in weekly seminar discussion.

Indicative reading

Detailed reading lists will be provided during the course. The recommended book is V. Finch, Corporate Insolvency Law: Perspectives and Principles (2nd ed., 2009) (Cambridge University Press).


Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours) in the main exam period.

The examination will be based on the full syllabus. Unmarked, unannotated versions of the relevant legislation may be taken into the examination.

Key facts

Department: Law

Total students 2012/13: 23

Average class size 2012/13: 24

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills