Yesterday saw two developments on the same day; both insolvency practitioner-related and, as you will see, that the two occurred on the same day was certainly ironic. First, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Federal Treasurer and Attorney-General released an exposure draft of the primary amendments to be included in the Insolvency Law Reform Bill. The Bill implements the first tranche of reforms previously released in a proposals paper directed at modernising and harmonising the regulatory framework applying to insolvency practitioners in Australia, and how they are registered, disciplined and regulated. The stated aims include to increase transparency and accountability, and improve communication, high professional standards and the community’s confidence in the effective regulation of insolvency practitioners. For more information and to read the exposure draft and its accompanying explanatory material, go to the Treasury’s webpage here. The closing date for submissions is 8 March 2013.
The second development yesterday was the revelation that accounting firm RSM Bird Cameron had issued proceedings against a former partner in the firm, an insolvency practitioner of 20 years standing, which included allegations of breaches of fiduciary duty and fraud. Yesterday Chief Justice Warren of the Victorian Supreme Court delivered judgment on an injunction application the liquidator had issued, seeking to restrain Fairfax Media Ltd from publishing the allegations. Her Honour, after reviewing the key principles derived from the authorities and considering the submissions made by the parties, refused the application.
The third newsflash, on a different topic, is the recent announcement by the Victorian Supreme Court as to changes to the procedure for appeals from a decision of an Associate Justice, to commence on 1 January 2013. The principal amendments are to Rule 77.06 et seq of the Supreme Court (General Civil Procedure) Rules 2005, are contained in the Supreme Court (Associate Judges Appeals Amendment) Rules 2012 (link). Essentially, appeals from Associate Judges to a Judge of the Trial Division will be by way of re-hearing (such that error must be shown), rather than by a re-hearing de novo. Procedures will include a requirement that Notices of Appeal be served within 14 days. For more information, click on the above link to the announcement, and see new Practice Notice 4 of 2012 (link).
The amendments include the addition of a new Rule 16.5 to the Supreme Court (Corporations) Rules 2003, to apply the new procedures also to appeals from Associate Judges in corporations matters. New Rule 16.5 will further provide that an appeal will lie to the Court of Appeal:
- in an application under s 459G of the Corporations Act (applications to set aside statutory demands); and
- in respect of any matter referred to an Associates Judge by a Judge of this Court under Rule 16.1(3).
Finally, Merry Christmas to all, and my wishes to you and your families for a happy and healthy 2013. My apologies that the busy demands of my practice have reduced my rate of writing on this site in recent months. May you all enjoy a wonderful and restful break in the weeks to come.