BOOK REVIEW – MARITIME CROSS-BORDER INSOLVENCY UNDER THE UNCITRAL MODEL LAW REGIME: Commonwealth and US Perspectives
Jingchen Xu, Centre of Maritime Law, National University of Singapore. Hart, Oxford (2020) xxix and 190 pp, plus 6 pp. Bibliography and 18 pp Index. Hardback £80.
Ultimately, commerce is about money, both making money and dealing with or pre-empting losses and difficulties of recovering payments. At the end of the day, there arises the question how to deal with insolvent debtors. In the shipping world, this requires not only basic questions of liability in shipping law but the peculiarities of admiralty law enforcement procedures and, since it is an inherently international world, cross-border issues of both national and international insolvency laws. Understanding and resolving these related issues has been described as like playing three-dimensional chess. To make things both better and worse, we have in recent years had to consider the impact of the UNCITRAL Model Law on Cross-Border Insolvency (1997).
The current book emanates from research at the Tulane Maritime Law Center and the Centre of Maritime Law at the National University of Singapore. The author considers the underlying maritime law and cross-border issues, and the impact of the Model Law, with particular reference to Australia, Singapore, the USA and the United Kingdom. The Model Law was implemented into English law by the Cross-Border Insolvency Regulations 2006, with some adjustment to take account of the Recast EU Insolvency Regulation of 2015, as it has turned out, in relation to proceedings in relation to EU companies before IP Completion Day and the UK’s legal and practical withdrawal from the European Union (albeit something of a hybrid situation continues). Nonetheless, so far as concerns the UK at least, the book is timely. Coincidentally, it was published at the same time as Professor Tettenborn’s chapter on “Admiralty and Insolvency”, detailing the post-Brexit position, in Admiralty Claims (2020). Dr Xu’s treatise provides an additional perspective, looking at the Model Law by itself and, as indicated above, with separate, comparatively useful, accounts distinguishing the positions in three other jurisdictions.
The book is well researched, with an awareness of the legal and practical issues in both admiralty and insolvency law and how they interact. There have been some notable incidents of large-scale international maritime insolvencies in recent years with worldwide ramifications. A work such as this should prove invaluable. It is written in a clear and confident style and hopefully will grow into a standard point of reference.