RESPONSIBILITY OF DIRECTORS IN BANKRUPTCY PROCEDURES UNDER EU LAW AND INDIVIDUAL MEMBER STATES OF EU

Section "Law": Economic and Legal Comparative Research

Abstract

The Bankruptcy Proceedings Code of Ukraine provides for the possibility of imposing liability under the obligations of the debtor – a legal person on the founders (stakeholders, shareholders) or other persons who have the right to give mandatory instructions to the debtor or have the opportunity to otherwise determine his actions. As a result, "comfortable" organizational forms of companies, such as LLCs and JSCs, have become risky for investors; managers, who may be employees, bear risk too. The article analyzes the legislation of the EU and some EU member states (Germany, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Latvia, Romania), concerning the liability of individuals in insolvency proceedings. We find that the rules on such liability are not harmonized at the EU level; as for individual countries, their laws do provide for the possibility of holding both de jure and de facto directors, whereas the latter may include the founders (stakeholders, shareholders) of the company, for the debts of the company. At the same time, the legislation of European countries describes in great detail the conditions and procedure for imposing such liability, which makes the risks for the individuals concerned predictable. Moreover, special rules on liability in insolvency proceedings are systematically linked to the provisions of company law, which establish the obligation of directors to act with due diligence in the interests of the company and liability for knowingly making business transactions with the knowledge that the company is insolvent (wrongful trading). In Ukraine, there are absolutely no specific legal provisions on the conditions and procedure for holding even de jure directors to liable in insolvency proceedings, not to mention the founders (stakeholders, shareholders) of companies, which creates a situation of legal uncertainty. To eliminate it, the legislation of Ukraine should define: the range of individuals on whom such liability may be imposed; a specific list of actions, the commission of which may give rise to liability; the need to prove the guilt of such individuals; forms of guilt sufficient to be held liable (only intent or also negligence); procedural rules for establishing guilt, including the issue of the burden of proof; who may lay claim to a director (insolvency administrator, creditor, court); statutes of limitations on the liability of directors, etc.

Keywords

insolvency, bankruptcy, debtor, director, shadow director, wrongful trading, subsidiary liability, joint and several liability

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Published
2021-04-15