NTU academic launches Africa insolvency law project

While in Kampala, Professor Burdette launched the Africa Project, a venture by the Nottingham Law School and sponsored by INSOL International.

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Professor David Burdette

Africa Round Table

David Burdette, Professor of Insolvency Law in the Nottingham Law School, recently attended the Africa Round Table organised by INSOL International, a worldwide body grouping together academics, judges and practitioners in insolvency. The Africa Round Table was first established by INSOL International in February 2010 as an annual forum for international bodies, regional institutions, policymakers and stakeholders from the continent, as well as global experts in the field, to debate issues of interest to modern African insolvency.

Attendance at the event is by invitation only and its objectives are to enable a high level dialogue to take place between private practitioners and public policymakers regarding insolvency reform in Africa, thus encouraging reform experiences to be shared and challenges to be discussed in an open and frank forum. As a result, it is hoped that insolvency law reform will become a higher priority on the African policy agenda and that discourse and learning across the region will be stimulated, thus underpinning a coordinated approach towards reforms and capacity building in the region.

The meeting on 17-18 October in Kampala, whose theme was 'Jobs in Africa: How Insolvency Regimes impact Economic Growth', explored how insolvency reform could contribute to economic development by saving valuable businesses thus preserving jobs, encouraging entrepreneurship and promoting foreign investment. Professor Burdette was able to share his experiences in a number of areas, including on insolvency practitioner regulation and how a proper structure for business financing during insolvency (also called "post-commencement financing") could contribute greatly to the success of business rescue.

Legislative Success

Professor Burdette, who has also been working as a consultant with the International Finance Corporation, a division of the World Bank, has been involved in reviewing legislative proposals in the corporate and insolvency law fields, including in Africa. The work involves offering technical assistance on the compliance of domestic texts with international benchmarking standards and globally accepted best practice. In addition, missions to IFC client states are sent with view to assessing ground conditions and preparedness for law reform, as well as meeting with stakeholders, including judges, civil servants, lawyers and industry representatives involved in proposed changes to the insolvency law frameworks.

As part of his work in Africa, Professor Burdette has been involved in missions to Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Seychelles and South Africa. In each of these countries, the advice David has given as part of the Debt Resolution and Business Exit team in the discussions with stakeholders has been instrumental in shaping the reforms. Often, these countries, which have inherited laws more suited to colonial times, require legislation more in keeping with the needs of a modern age and also the contemporary focus on rescuing businesses. Here, Professor Burdette's role is to also advise on global models that could be usefully adapted to local conditions, while respecting the rich legal traditions and diversity in these countries.

Professor Burdette has recently seen the fruits of his work in insolvency law given legislative form in the shape of the Seychelles Insolvency Act 2013. It is not, however, his first project that has resulted in laws being passed, as secondary legislation has also been enacted in Mauritius. David is also currently involved in a project in Lesotho, which is aimed at reviewing the insolvency laws in that jurisdiction, and will hopefully also lead to a new framework being adopted.

The Africa Project

While in Kampala, Professor Burdette also launched the Africa Project, a venture by the Nottingham Law School and sponsored by INSOL International. The project is aimed at establishing a database of primary and secondary materials on insolvency laws in Africa. The purpose of the exercise will be to ascertain the state of play with respect to the progress of law reforms in countries on the continent with view to assessing the needs of African states for development of their legal infrastructure in the insolvency arena. The project will incidentally also enable the development of scholarship on African legal matters to be better served by an up-to-date collection of authoritative sources and commentary on insolvency and related laws.

NTU academic launches Africa insolvency law project

Published on 17 October 2014
  • Category: Nottingham Law School

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