American pet owners are probably all familiar with Chewy, an e-commerce pet food and products supplier that will quickly ship those heavy bags of dog or cat food right to your doorstep at competitive prices. No longer did one of the authors of this article have to walk 30 minutes round trip in the dog days of humid DC summers to pick up and carry a 30 pound bag of Taste of the Wild grain-free high prairie recipe to feed an English bulldog and a French bulldog. Leveraged finance attorneys, investors, lenders and borrowers should also be familiar with Chewy, though for reasons that highlight the complexities and risks associated with today’s leverage finance market.
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A recent High Court case (Fairhold Securitisation Limited v Clifden IOM No 1 Ltd) has affirmed that in debt issuances involving a trustee, noteholders have only limited rights to take direct enforcement action.  The case confirmed that:

  • trustees do not need to act on holders’ instructions until holdings have been verified;
  • on receipt of instructions, a trustee is not bound to act until it has had a reasonable time to verify holdings, review instructions, take advice and obtain satisfactory indemnification;
  • where a trustee holding a floating charge is obliged to take enforcement action, its failure to do so does not entitle noteholders to step into the shoes of the trustee and appoint administrators.


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On 23 May 2018, New York’s Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department (an intermediate appellate court covering a vast swath of “downstate” New York) decided Soroush v. Citimortgage, Inc.  – a closely watched case that many in the industry worried would decide the fate of “de-acceleration letters.” De-acceleration letters are commonly used by loan servicers as a tool to revive aged defaulted mortgage loans that otherwise would be in danger of becoming time-barred.

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Another step towards a lender-friendly environment, but the new form of pledge is being delayed

The Italian Parliament passed law No. 155 of 19 October 2017 to delegate the Government to reform the rules on insolvency and financial distress. This has been commented widely in the press and between commentantors, as it is expected to bring about significant developments (we have previously reported here).

What has received less attention, is that the law also mandates Government to reorganise the system of legal priorities (privilegi), i.e. the rights of preference set out at law for given claims to have preference over other creditors. Further, the delegation includes the authority to introduce a form of non-possessory security over moveable assets.
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In a decision that will be welcomed both by second-ranking secured creditors and by administrators, the Court of Appeal recently held that a second-ranking floating charge (SRFC) was still capable of being a qualifying floating charge for the purposes of Schedule B1 of the Insolvency Act 1986 despite the earlier crystallisation of a prior-ranking floating charge (PRFC).  In addition, the SRFC was capable of being enforceable notwithstanding the fact that there were no assets of the chargor which were not covered by the PRFC.  Accordingly, the appointment of administrators by the holder of the SRFC was valid.  Case: Saw (SW) 2010 Ltd v Wilson [2017] EWCA Civ 1001

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In the recent case of Kevin Taylor v Van Dutch Marine Holding Ltd and others, the UK High Court decided that the exercise of existing rights by a secured creditor should not be regarded as a disposal by a defendant, and as a result, enforcement by a secured creditor is not an infringement of a freezing order. The High Court also clarified that it is not necessary for a secured creditor to bring an application for variation of the freezing order.

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