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Sunday, May 31, 2020

Insolvency Proceedings against LLP and OPC under IBC, 2016

Introduction
The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (‘the Code’) has amended and as well as replaced many provisions of other statutes that could have created an overlap of powers and functions with respect to the resolution of insolvency and liquidation of certain entities. Among these statutes, One Person Company [1] (‘OPC’) and Limited Liability Partnership ('LLP') has also been covered in order to give power to National Company Law Tribunal (‘NCLT’) to regulate the insolvency resolution process as well as the liquidation process for the abovementioned entities. [2]

Amendment in Limited Liability Partnership Act, 2008
In the 10th Schedule of the Code, the provisions of winding up of an LLP as mentioned in other statutes [3] were omitted. On the other hand, for OPC, Schedule 8 was enacted for the same purpose. These schedules, when coupled with the overriding power of the Code [4], states, that from the date of enforcement of the Code, all the insolvency and liquidation matters of the entities as mentioned therein [5] will be governed by the Code alone. This is also evident from the provisions which give power to the Code [6] to apply the provisions of the statute on any OPC/LLP. [7] 

Initiation of Insolvency Proceedings
1. Insolvency Proceedings against an OPC and LLP can be initiated by any Financial Creditor [8], Operational Creditor [9], or the entities themselves [10] when there is any debt [11] with respect to any of these creditor(s) [12], and there exists a default of payment [13] with respect to these debts.
2. It must be noted that, in order to initiate a corporate insolvency resolution process (‘CIRP’) against an OPC/LLP, the default of payment must be at least Rs. 1 lakh [14] and falling in the ambit of financial debt [15] or operational debt [16] as mentioned in the Code. 
3. Because of the fact that time is an essential aspect, the whole process of CIRP is to be completed in 180 days [17]. However, if the NCLT is of the opinion that the process will not be able to be completed within such prescribed time-limit, and extension of 90 [18] days can be granted by it. Thus, the total time period for the CIRP to be completed must not exceed a period of 330 days from the date of commencement of insolvency proceedings against the corporate debtor. [19]

Steps after the admission of application for CIRP
1. Once the application for initiation of CIRP is admitted by NCLT, it appoints an Insolvency Resolution Professional (‘IRP’) [20] who takes charge of the management of the firm in order to take necessary steps to help revive the company and pay-off its debts. [21] He can also raise fresh funds [22] to continue the operations of the OPC/LLP and has to make all the endeavors to protect the value of the property of the corporate debtor. [23]
2. During this period, the NCLT also initiates the period of moratorium [24], while the IRP makes a public announcement to call out all the creditors of the firm to claim their debt. [25] 
3. The firm is deemed to be insolvent on the very date when an application for initiating CIRP against the firm is admitted by NCLT. [26]

Committee of Creditors
1. The Creditors give their claims to IRP, and submission of these claims are regulated by the Code. [27]
2. After all the claims are collated by the IRP, he forms a Committee of Creditors (‘CoC’) [28] which contains all the creditors of firm tom whom the debt has not been paid off. The constitution of the CoC also has certain conditions and priorities with respect to the category of creditors. [29]
3. The CoC has the power to appoint IRP as the Resolutions Professional (‘RP’) or appoint any other eligible Insolvency Professional as RP. [30] 
4. The CoC has the power to decide the actions taken by the RP [31] for managing the business of the corporate debtor. 
5. The voting rights of members of the CoC are in proportion to the financial debt owed to them by the corporate debtor. [32]
6. The CoC has to conduct regular meetings to discuss the next steps to be taken for the insolvency resolution of the corporate debtor. These meetings are to be in conformity with the provisions of the Code. [33] 

Preparation of Information Memorandum
When the CoC has appointed an RP, the next step is to create an information memorandum [34] that contains all the relevant information that acts as an aid for the CoC to make better decisions with respect to the situations, which the committee might have made without any analysis. This memorandum is created by the RP. [35] There is a time limit and a manner in which the memorandum has to be submitted by the RP. [36]

Resolution Plan
The Resolution Plan is one of the most important aspects of the whole CIRP. This Resolution Plan is made with the objective of maximizing the value of assets of the corporate debtor. [37] The contents of the Resolution Plan as mentioned by the regulations must adhere to. [38] 
This resolution plan is submitted by a Resolution Applicant [39] and must be in conformity with provisions of the Code [40] in order to be approved by the NCLT for the resolution of the corporate debtor.
After RP has verified the Resolution Plan in accordance with the provisions of the Code [41], he has to present the Plan to CoC to obtain its approval. [42] If the Plan is approved by the CoC [43], the Plan is forwarded to NCLT, which decides whether the Plan is fit to be approved or not. [44]

Approval/Rejection of Resolution Plan
The Resolution Plan has to be approved by the CoC [45] as well as the NCLT [46] in order to continue the business of the corporate debtor as a going concern and prevent its liquidation. Thus, there are two situations that can occur if either CoC or NCLT approves or rejects the Resolution Plan.

(a) When Resolution Plan is Rejected/Disqualified
      (i) If the NCLT does not receive a resolution plan [47]
   (ii) If the Resolution Plan is rejected by RP on account of it being in non-conformity with the provisions of the Code. [48] 
     (iii) If the Plan has not been able to obtain at least 66% of the voting share of the CoC, and if there is no other alternative to resort to within the specified period, the NCLT will have no other option except proceeding with the liquidation of the corporate debtor. [49]

(b) When the Resolution Plan is approved
   (i) If the Resolution Plan is approved by at least 66% of the voting share of the CoC and is submitted to the NCLT by the RP within the prescribed time limit. [50] 

Contingent Situations with respect to the Resolution of Insolvency
(a) When insolvency is resolved
If the Resolution Plan is accepted, the corporate debtor will be prevented from liquidation and maximum efforts will be put in order to revive the business and pay off the debts of the creditor of the corporate debtor. It is to be noted that if the approval of the NCLT is obtained, then the period of moratorium ceases to exist. [51]

(b) When insolvency is not resolved
If the Resolution Plan is rejected [52], or if there is a mutual agreement by the members of the CoC to liquidate the business of the corporate debtor [53], then the NCLT has no other option but to give the order to liquidate the business of the corporate debtor. This decision by the CoC to liquidate the business of the corporate debtor must be taken before submitting the resolution plan to the NCLT.

Process of Liquidation
1. After NCLT has passed the order for liquidation, a liquidator is appointed [54] who consolidates [55] and verifies the claims of all the creditors. [56] He has the power to accept or reject the claims [57] provided he give sufficient reason for doing so. Further, he has to determine the value of claims. [58]
2. The assets that can be liquidated in order to satisfy the claims of the debtors are called ‘Liquidation Estate’. Provisions of the Code contain a list of assets of the corporate debtor that can be liquidated.[59]
3. After all the assets are liquidated, they are to be distributed in accordance with the priority of claims as mentioned in the Code. [60] When the proceeds obtained from the liquidation of such assets are distributed, the liquidator has the responsibility to make an application to the NCLT for the dissolution of the Corporate Debtor. [61] 
4. When the application for the dissolution of the corporate debtor is approved by the NCLT, the corporate debtor is dissolved and ceases to exist. [62]


References
[1] Section 2(62), Companies Act, 2013.
[2] Section 2(62), Companies Act, 2013; Section 2(n), Limited Liability Partnership Act, 2008 r/w Section 2(a), Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[3] Section 64(C), Limited Liability Partnership Act, 2008.
[4] Section 238, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[5] Section 2, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[6] Section 2(a) r/w Section 255, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[7] Section 3(7) r/w Section 3(8) and Section 3(23), Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[8] Section 5(7) r/w Section 7, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[9] Section 5(20) r/w Section 8 and Section 9, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[10] Section 5(5)(a) r/w Section 10, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[11Section 3(11), Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[12Section 3(10), Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[13Section 3(12), Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[14Section 4, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[15Section 5(8), Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[16Section 5(21), Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[17Section 5(14) r/w Section 12(1), Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[18Section 12(3), Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[19First Proviso of Section 12(3), Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[20Section 13(c) r/w Section 16, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[21] Section 17 and Section 18,  Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[22] Section 5(15) r/w Section 20(2)(c), Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[23] Section 20, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016
[24] Section 13(a) r/w Section 14, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[25] Section 13(b) r/w Section 15, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[26] Section 5(12), Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[27] Section 18(b), Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016. r/w Regulation 12(1), IBBI (CIRP) Regulations, 2016.
[28] Regulations 12(3), 16, and 17(1), IBBI (CIRP) Regulations, 2016.
[29] Section 21(2) and Section 21(3), Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[30] Section 22, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[31] Section 28, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[32] Section 24(6), Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[33] Section 24, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[34] Section 5(10), Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[35] Section 29(1), Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[36] Regulation 36, IBBI (CIRP) Regulations, 2016.
[37] Regulation 37, IBBI (CIRP) Regulations, 2016.
[38] Regulation 38, IBBI (CIRP) Regulations, 2016.
[39] Section 5(25), Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[40] Section 30, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[41] Section 30(2), Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[42] Section 30(3), Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016. r/w CIRP Regulation 39(2) & 39(3).
[43] Section 30(4), Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 r/w Regulation 39(3), IBBI (CIRP) Regulations, 2016.
[44] Section 30(6), Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016. r/w Regulation 39(4) & 39(5), IBBI (CIRP) Regulations, 2016.
[45] Section 30(4), Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016. r/w Regulation 39(3), IBBI (CIRP) Regulations, 2016.
[46] Section 31, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[47] Section 30(6), Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[48] Section 30(2), Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[49] Section 33(1), Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[50] Section 30(6), Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[51] Section 31(2), Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[52] Section 33(1), Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[53] Section 33(2), Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[54] Section 34, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[55] Section 38, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[56] Section 39, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[57] Section 40, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[58] Section 41, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[59] Section 36, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[60] Section 53, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[61] Section 54, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
[62] Section 302, Companies Act, 2013.

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