The Federal Government has made temporary changes to insolvency laws under the Coronavirus Economic Response Package Omnibus Act 2020, aimed at relieving current economic pressures on individuals and companies.
The Act commenced on 25 March 2020.
These temporary changes to insolvency laws are as follows:
The time for a debtor to comply with a bankruptcy notice has been extended from 21 days to six months. The threshold for initiating bankruptcy proceedings increases from $5,000 to $20,000. These changes will apply for six months from commencement of the Act.
The same six month time extension applies to the time within which a debtor is protected from enforcement action by a creditor, following their presentation of a declaration of intention to present a debtor’s petition, under s 54A Bankruptcy Act.
The time for a debtor company to comply with a statutory demand has been extended from 21 days to six months. The threshold to issue a statutory demand has been increased from $2,000 to $20,000. These changes will apply until 25 September 2020.
A new, temporary, s 588GAAA ‘Safe harbour—temporary relief in response to the coronavirus’, of the Corporations Act 2001 provides that the existing civil penalties for directors failing to prevent insolvent trading under ss 588G(2) do not apply in relation to a debt incurred by a company if the debt is incurred in the ordinary course of the company’s business and until 25 September 2020.
Practitioners should keep these changes in mind for the next six months and be aware of the end date, which is 25 September 2020.