|Abstract: ||Administratorius Lietuvoje turi pareigą pareikšti ieškinius teisme dėl žalos atlyginimo, jei vadovas laiku nesikreipė dėl bankroto bylos iškėlimo, o kreditorių susirinkimui tuo pačiu pagrindu suteikta teisė įpareigoti administratorių pateikti ieškinį teismui.
Įpareigojimai pareikšti kitokio pobūdžio ieškinius teisme yra šio darbo klausimas.
Darbe nagrinėjamas klausimas Lietuvos kasaciniame teisme iki šiol nebuvo nagrinėtas, tuo tarpu Lietuvos apeliacinis teismas yra pasisakęs, kad kreditorių susirinkimo nutarimai dėl konkrečių procesų (civilinių bylų) inicijavimo ir eigos bankroto administratoriui yra rekomendacinio (patariamojo) pobūdžio, todėl jis yra aktualus ir diskutuotinas.
Išanalizavus įmonių bankroto procesus Lietuvoje, Anglijoje ir Velse, bei JAV, galima daryti pagrįstą išvadą, kad:
a) administratorius nagrinėtose šalyse bankroto procese atlieka įmonės vadovo funkcijas, todėl turi fiduciarines pareigas, už kurių nevykdymą kyla civilinė atsakomybė;
b) kreditorių teisės yra panašios, tačiau tik Lietuvoje jie gali įpareigoti administratorių pareikšti ieškinį, esant tam tikroms sąlygoms;
c) tik Lietuvoje egzistuoja sąlygos, kurioms esant administratorius privalo pareikšti ieškinį.
Tarp analizuotų trijų teisinių reguliavimų yra viena esminis skirtumas – Lietuvos valstybė labiau kišasi į bankroto procesą, nes yra išleidusi specialius teisės aktus reguliuojančius administratoriaus skyrimo ir administravimo išlaidų sąmatos tvirtinimo procedūras. Prieita išvados, kad jeigu administratorius turi fiduciarines pareigas, valstybė neturėtų kištis į procesus, kurie priskirtini grynai civiliniams santykiams, o galiojantis teisinis reguliavimas yra keistinas.
Analizuojant JAV bankroto kodeksą išsiaiškinta, kad su bankrutuojančia (bankrutavusia) bendrove susiję ir slaptų interesų turintys asmenys (angl. Insiders) negali balsuoti renkant administratorių. Darbe nebuvo nagrinėta, ar šie asmenys gali balsuoti priimant kitus sprendimus bankroto procese, bet neabejotinai toks teisinis reguliavimas padėtų išvengti dalies ginčų tarp administratoriaus ir kreditorių, todėl pasiūlyta detaliau išnagrinėti tokių asmenų teises ir jų ribojimo galimybes Lietuvoje.
Hipotezė, kad bankroto administratoriui nėra privalomi kreditorių susirinkimo įpareigojimai pareikšti ieškinius, nesusijusius su žalos atlyginimu ĮBĮ 23 str. 17 d. pagrindu pasiteisino.|
The Enterprise Bankruptcy Law (hereinafter referred to as the EBL) of the Republic of Lithuania regulates the bankruptcy process for enterprises in Lithuania. Therefore, this law is one of the main legal sources examined in this paper.
The duties of an administrator in Lithuania include bringing an action to the court for damages when the manager of a company has failed to file a petition with the court for the initiation of bankruptcy proceedings within the due time limits.
With the new Item 17 of Article 23 (Rights of the Meeting of Creditors) of the EBL coming into force as of 1 January 2016, the meeting of creditors is also entitled to oblige a bankruptcy administrator to bring an action to the court for damages if the manager of the company has failed to file such a petition with the court.
The topic of this paper involves the obligations to bring other actions to the court.
The hypothesis of this paper suggests that, following Article 23(17) of the EBL, the obligation to initiate other actions with the court should not be binding for the administrator.
According to the legal norms of Lithuania, an obligation to address the court for the initiation of the bankruptcy proceedings is established for the manager of a company, since he is best informed of the company’s financial standing; whereas overdue bankruptcy proceedings are likely to violate the interests of both the existing creditors of the company... and the new potential creditors... . By not addressing the court for the initiation of bankruptcy proceedings, the head of a company assumes the risk of being obliged to provide compensation for damages suffered by the creditors due to the fact that the company has failed to file a petition with the court for the initiation of bankruptcy proceedings within the due time limit... .
The Court of Cassation has clarified that, in the case of an overdue petition for the initiation of bankruptcy proceedings, the total increase of the debts of a company, which cannot be repaid by the company during the bankruptcy process irrespective of the fact that a debt to a specific creditor may not only increase but also be reduced, is nonetheless regarded as a damage suffered by the company and the creditors.
The issue discussed in this paper has never been dealt with by the Court of Cassation, yet the Court of Appeal of Lithuania has stated that the resolutions of the meetings of creditors on the initiation and progress of certain processes (civil cases) by the bankruptcy administrator are of an advisory nature; therefore, the issue remains relevant and is open for discussion.
Disputes between creditors and administrators may have various causes, such as the obligation of the creditor to bring a civil case to the court following an unsuccessful business decision of the former manager or administrator’s decision to close such a case by adopting a court settlement.
In Lithuania, the bankruptcy process is carried out in the court of law, where the administrator is appointed at random by using the selection program in a computer. The meeting of creditors has no influence on the appointment of the administrator, even though he is the person in charge of ensuring the adequate satisfaction of the claims of the bankrupt company (debtor) and its creditors. It is the administrator to whom the creditors submit their requirements and cooperate with until the completion of the liquidation procedure.
Having analysed the legal regulations in Lithuania, it is concluded that the duties of the administrator are similar to those of the manager, and that is why he has fiduciary duties. The non-performance (improper performance) of these duties involves civil liability.
The analysis of the Insolvency (England and Wales) Rules suggests that the loss-making activities during a company’s insolvency imply a personal liability of the manager. Unlike in Lithuania, in England and Wales the creditors cannot oblige the administrator to sue for the actions of such managers; instead, they leave this to the liquidator's discretion. The liability for such inaction is not solved by addressing the issue of the liquidator’s obligation to sue, but rather by deciding on the liability for the improper fulfilment of duties.
In this paper, it is also revealed that, similarly to in Lithuania, in England and Wales the duties of the liquidator are clearly fiduciary. In both appointing and removing the liquidator, the creditors are not obliged to specify the reasons behind this action. Moreover, prior to the appointment, the liquidator must submit to the court his consent to administrate the company, which in itself demonstrates a degree of mutual trust.
In the USA, the meeting of creditors votes on the appointment of a trustee. Only the creditors with an uncontested claim right, and having no interests except for those of the creditor’s claim and who are not “insiders”, are entitled to vote. An analysis of the trustee’s duties shows that he has fiduciary duties, which is the same as in other countries. Professor John A. E. Pottow speaks of this matter in his Fiduciary Duties in Bankruptcy and Insolvency, where he justifies the existence of the trustee’s fiduciary duties, even though the law has no direct reference concerning this.
The analysis of the corporate bankruptcy processes in Lithuania, England, Wales and the USA leads to the reasoned conclusion that, in the process of bankruptcy, the administrator takes on the functions of the manager of the company during the bankruptcy process; therefore, the administrator has fiduciary duties. Consequently, only he can decide to bring a case to the court, or to withdraw or settle the case. In the paper, the opinion of the Court of Appeal of Lithuania is shared that the resolutions of the meetings of creditors on the initiation and progress of specific processes (civil cases) by the bankruptcy administrator are of an advisory nature. It is found that this hypothesis is true.
There is one major difference between the three legal regulations included in the analysis, i.e. the Lithuanian State is more likely to interfere with the bankruptcy process, since it has issued special legal acts regulating the procedures for the appointment of the administrator and the approval of the estimates of the administrating costs. It is concluded that, if the administrator has fiduciary duties, the state should not interfere with the processes that are applicable solely to civil relationships. The valid legal regulation delays the bankruptcy process and should be subject to change.
In the analysis of the Bankruptcy Code of the USA, it is explained that persons having secret interests with the company undergoing bankruptcy (or that is bankrupt), i.e. the “insiders”, cannot vote when appointing the administrator. It is not examined here if these persons are entitled to vote for the adoption of other decisions in the bankruptcy process, yet undoubtedly such a legal regulation would prevent some disputes of the administrators and creditors from occurring. The rights and the possibilities of restricting the rights of insiders in Lithuania should therefore be analysed in more detail.