The 2017 Inquiry impacting Restructuring and Turnaround professionals

The latest inquiry to examine the conduct of Restructuring and Turnaround practitioners – the sixth in the last seven years – is a Senate Select Committee Inquiry, initiated on Thursday 16th February.

The stated purpose of the Select Committee on Lending to Primary Production Customers is to ‘inquire into and report on the regulation and practices of financial institutions in relation to primary production industries.’

The first term of reference deals with financial institutions:

(a) the lending, and foreclosure and default practices, including constructive and non-monetary default processes

Whilst the second deals with the role of restructuring and turnaround professionals (as well as valuers):

(b) the roles of other service providers to, and agents of, financial institutions, including valuers and insolvency practitioners, and the impact of  these  services

The 2017 Inquiry has a narrower focus on primary producers, but otherwise there is significant similarity to the terms of reference of the 2015 Parliamentary Joint Committee Inquiry into The Impairment of customer loans, which examined:

(c) practices of banks and other financial institutions in Australia using non-monetary conditions of default to impair the loans of their customers, and the use of punitive clauses such as suspension clauses and offset clauses by these institutions;

(d) role of insolvency practitioners as part of this process;

If ‘the same question’ is in fact being asked again, then the restructuring and turnaround profession needs to think carefully about how we respond.

Inquiries dealing with the conduct and performance of restructuring and turnaround professionals since 2010:

2017 – Senate Select Committee on Lending to Primary Production Customers

2016 – Parliamentary Joint Committee Inquiry into The impairment of customer loans

2015 – Senate Inquiry into Insolvency in the Australian construction industry

2014 – Senate Inquiry into Performance of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission

2012 – Senate Inquiry into The post-GFC banking sector

2010 – Senate Inquiry into The regulation, registration and remuneration of insolvency practitioners in Australia