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Our panel of experts considers what lies ahead for R & I professionals in 2017.
Chris Laughton (CL), partner in the corporate advisory services group at Mercer & Hole
Frances Coulson (FC), senior partner and head of insolvency & litigation, Moon Beever
Mark Sands (MS), partner in the creditor services division at RSM
Nick Hood (NH), business risk advisor at Opus Business Services
CL: Several areas of R & I activity strike me as being amenable to development as a result of case law. A confident prediction is that we will continue to see innovative schemes of arrangement, especially with cross-border dimensions. They meet many of the requirements of global restructuring participants, including the need for the UK profession to demonstrate its skills and maintain its lead.
Interest rate hedging product and other mis-selling and similar claims against banks will certainly hit the headlines, although those that reach trial will probably be the weaker ones. Banks settle good claims to avoid uncomfortable precedents.
Another field where settlement is the norm is professional negligence claims against insolvency practitioners (IPs). Both the general litigation appetite and the cyclical rise in insolvency litigation, when the number of insolvencies is low, have been contributing to this activity. Whether or not the individual claims have real merit is a separate issue, but there will be some to defend and pursue.
Allen & Anor; Re Longmeade Ltd (In Liquidation) (Rev 1)  EWHC 356 (Ch),  All ER (D) 259 (Feb) is unlikely to open the floodgates and submerge the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) under claims where the Official Receiver (OR) has been liquidator. However, the ingenuity and enthusiasm of insolvency litigators being what it is, we might reasonably expect BEIS to be held to account for any such negligence. Policy changes in relation to the OR’s activity and regulation could, of course, limit that risk.
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