UK's Solvent Schemes Dealt Another Blow: Hopefully, the Coup de Grâce

The travesty that is the Solvent Scheme of Arrangement has been dealt another blow; one hopes a fatal one. A month after issuing a blistering attack on the practice, Lord Glennie entered final judgment this week refusing to sanction the Scottish Lion scheme. It is worth taking a long look at Lord Glennie’s lengthy opinion.

The issue, succinctly stated by the court, was: “Can it ever be fair to sanction a ‘solvent’ scheme of arrangement in the face of continuing creditor opposition to having their occurrence cover compulsorily terminated?” The court’s answer was, Probably Not.

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Travelers v. Bailey

Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court handed a win to Travelers (and indirectly to chapter 11 debtors using insurance proceeds to fund bodily injury trusts), getting Travelers out of further liability arising from its actions “related to” its role as the primary insurer of Johns-Manville. These were not suits seeking proceeds of the insurance policies issued by Travelers to Johns-Manville, but suits alleging that Travelers had an independent duty to claimants arising from its knowledge of the dangers of asbestos. 

Resting on res judicata and the finality of settlements and judgments, the Court refused to address whether the Bankruptcy Court’s 1986 Orders had exceeded its authority. That time, according to the Court, had long passed:

Almost a quarter-century after the 1986 Orders were entered, the time to prune them is over.

The Court reserved for another day (never?) the question of the proper scope of Bankruptcy Court authority in these matters: 

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