INSOL International: New challenges
By Julie Hertzberg, President, INSOL International
It is a privilege to be invited to contribute to this publication at the conclusion of my first year as President of INSOL International. I think back to one year ago and the initiatives we began to implement and the strategies we had developed for additional member engagement.
I began my Presidency in Singapore at the conclusion of our annual conference with over 950 participants from 69 countries. Approximately 112 judges from those countries participated in a closed-door Judicial Colloquium, brainstorming ways to enhance cooperation within cross-border legal disputes. Like all of you, I never could have imagined we would be faced with a global pandemic within 12 months of that event.
As professionals within the crisis management and restructuring community, we are accustomed to approaching each new hardship as a challenge and that of COVID-19 is no different. It has been energising and inspiring to work with the Board and staff at INSOL in rising to this challenge and building on the successes of my predecessor, Adam Harris to ensure we remain forward focused, relevant and achieve another year of valuable contributions to our members and the global insolvency and restructuring industry at-large.
While much of our focus is on the future and the uncertainty we are currently facing, I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on some of the positive achievements within the past 12 months, acknowledging how we excel in coordinating global programs and projects to facilitate greater international cooperation. Our growing membership and comprehensive global network are testament to the strength of our organisation and I am filled with pride to consider the depth of our membership of approximately 10,000 professionals through over 40 Member Associations. It is our members lending their deep expertise to our association which enables us to continue to strive to attain our vision.
This past year, we have made great strides in delivering more of the strategic recommendations of our Task Force 2021 strategic review, including opening a hub in Asia, and launching the online Foundation Course. Furthermore, we have continued to hold successful conferences and seminars, welcomed new Fellows, and published regular papers.
Having operated solely from headquarters in London since 1982 we are delighted to have launched the INSOL Asia Hub at Singapore’s Maxwell Chambers Suites in August 2019. With a large membership in the Asia Pacific region, the INSOL Asia Hub has enabled INSOL to increase engagement with existing members and other key stakeholders and provided more opportunities to help with the education and training of practitioners in the region. Going forward, this will be the on- the-ground platform to assist in the development of best practices for insolvency and restructuring systems in Asia, and strengthen relations with government agencies, regulators, the judiciary, and global agencies operating on the ground.
The need for an office in Asia to broaden and deepen INSOL’s engagement in the region was identified as part of the strategic review undertaken by INSOL International in 2016 and we have been delighted by the enthusiastic response to this initiative from members across the globe, and especially in Asia.
Our thriving Global Insolvency Practice Course (GIPC), the only route to becoming a Fellow of INSOL International, has now been running with great success for 10 years. In this time, we have seen 171 professionals achieve the accreditation of Fellow, INSOL International. Twenty-five of these from 13 countries were welcomed in 2020, and we eagerly anticipate significant engagement in the future with them together with our existing Fellows. It is these highly engaged individuals who help to shape the future of INSOL and ensure that we maintain our position as thought leaders within the restructuring and insolvency community.
In 2019 we were proud to have launched a complementary qualification to sit alongside our GIPC. As part of our strategic review in 2016, leading to the adoption of Task Force 2021, we identified a void within the international insolvency profession, particularly in developing jurisdictions, for an introductory cross-border training course. This prompted the creation and launch of the postgraduate Foundation Certificate in Insolvency Law which is delivered entirely online. The certification represents the culmination of two years’ research, planning and hard work from a dedicated course committee and has already attracted 119 students from 35 countries who began studying in September 2019.
Candidates are required to complete eight modules which can be chosen to suit the interests and local needs of each individual, with three compulsory elements to ensure a core understanding of international insolvency law. Being wholly online means the course is open to anyone with regular access to a computer and internet connection. I am anticipating great things from these individuals who do this course, allowing younger practitioners entry into the industry, broadening our network into even more remote areas of the world and deepening our understanding of developing jurisdictions.
Historically, INSOL has been known for providing the opportunity to bring together peers and colleagues from around the globe, to facilitate the sharing of ideas and building of cross-border relationships. Our events programme has been an instrumental part of this goal and, as ever, 2019 included a constructive roster of events.
Singapore was host to INSOL’s annual conference in April 2019, where we were delighted to welcome over 950 delegates from 69 countries. The conference saw filled-to-capacity ancillary programming for the Judicial and Academic Colloquia, the offshore, small practice and younger members meetings, and the fifth annual INSOL Fellows forum, in addition to a well-rounded technical programme built on the theme of looking to the future: what to expect and how to prepare.
Professor Richard Susskind provided an excellent and thought-provoking keynote session and the conference was closed with a dynamic question and answer panel featuring an array of market experts and chaired by broadcast journalist Rico Hizon. Conferences like this remind all of us how cooperation is critical to establishing seamless cross-border insolvency and restructuring regimes which encourage lending and better global business practices.
Our global programme of one-day seminars was also highly successful in 2019, attracting over 850 delegates from 34 countries at seven individual seminars. We held our second Nordic European seminar with great success in Stockholm in May 2019 focusing on specific regional restructuring issues and the EU Directive. In June, Sandra Särav encouraged proactive thought on digital technologies’ differing use across countries, illustrating Estonia’s transformation from a soviet state at our Channel Islands seminar held in Guernsey. We hosted four seminars in Eastern Asia throughout October and November. Highly successful seminars in Beijing and Shanghai were followed by our second annual seminar in Hong Kong and first visit in many years to Tokyo.
All these events received high praise for the interesting range of region-specific topics and selection of relevant and noteworthy speakers. Finally, our established Offshore seminar, in association with member association RISA Bahamas, welcomed 135 delegates to The Bahamas in December, with a keynote address from Hon. Judge Kevin Carey focusing on recent trends in cross-border insolvencies.
INSOL International Technical Publications
The regular production of technical publications is a valuable benefit to INSOL’s members and the technical library available on the INSOL International website is a comprehensive resource covering an array of topics and cutting-edge developments. The production of these publications would not be possible without the knowledge and experience of our members, many of whom are instrumental in the creation of these publications which include books, special reports, a technical paper series, and a series specifically aimed at small practices.
In the past 12 months we have published books covering current employee entitlements and bank resolution. There have been special reports examining contemporary issues such as artificial intelligence and cryptocurrency, our technical papers have included aircraft repossession upon a default and the new bankruptcy laws in Morocco and Bahrain amongst many others, not to mention three additions to our small practitioners’ technical paper series. The wealth of expertise available is expansive and cannot be done justice here in one small paragraph. Suffice to say it is a worthwhile point of reference for any professional concerned with insolvency and restructuring, and it will continue to be so.
Looking ahead, I promise, INSOL International will grow from the challenges it and the world are facing. We will be more creative about online learning, find new ways to connect with our colleagues around the world and be reminded of why it is so essential that we all pull together to help rebuild the global economy. I am proud to be a part of a community which looks forward and concentrates on positive change instead of dwelling on things outside of our control. Together, we will get through these monumental times.
President – INSOL International
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