Stakeholders’ Consultation Committee in liquidation do not have any parliamentary backing but a product of subordinate legislation. This is a committee constituted under Regulation 31A of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (Liquidation Process) Regulations, 2016. To understand the scope of stakeholders’ consultation committee we may refer to Section 35(2) and executive overreach in a legislative mandate.
Power to Consult
Section 35(2) empower the liquidator to power to consult any of the stakeholders entitled to a distribution of proceeds under section 53. This is not a duty of the liquidator but power meaning thereby this consultation is completely optional on part of the liquidator. Under law, any such consultation is not be binding on the liquidator. However, the law mandate record of such consultation, if it takes place. The records of any such consultation shall be made available to all other stakeholders not so consulted, in a manner specified by the Board. [Section 35(2)]
This is the duty of stakeholders consulted to extend all assistance and cooperation to the liquidator to complete the liquidation of the corporate debtor. [Regulation 8(1)]
For the purpose of Second proviso, the liquidator shall maintain the particulars of any consultation with the stakeholders made under this Regulation, as specified in Form A of Schedule II. [Regulation 8(2)]
The above law is the major position under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 and the Liquidation Regulations.
However, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) to streamline this consultation process, prescribes the Stakeholders’ Consultation. With the recent amendment, the stakeholder’s consultation committee becomes a significant affair. Still, any stakeholder should not consider it as Committee of Creditors which is powerful to decide the faith the resolution process.
The liquidator shall constitute a Stakeholders’ Consultation Committee within sixty days from the liquidation commencement date (the date of liquidation order). The committee shall be constitute based on the List of stakeholders prepared on the basis of claims received and verified. [Regulation 31A(1)]
Duty of Consultation Committee
Regulation 31A cast a duty on the Stakeholders Consultation Committee to advise the liquidator on matters related to –
- Appointment of Professionals and their remuneration (power given with effect from 30 September 2021);
- Sale under Regulation 32, including manner of sale, pre-bid qualifications, reserve price, amount of earnest money deposit, and marketing strategy.
The decision(s) taken by the liquidator prior to the constitution of consultation committee shall be placed before the consultation committee for information in its first meeting. [Proviso to Regulation 31A(1)] The Committee has no power to advise on such decision taken place before the constitution of the Stakeholders’ consultation committee.
The Regulations do not limit the power of the liquidator to consult any of the stakeholder under Section 35(2) in any additional matter.
The consultation committee shall have following members [Regulation 31A (2)]:
Secured Financial Creditors: 2 – 4 depends upon percentage of claims to the Liquidation Value;
Unsecured Financial Creditors: 1-2 upon percentage of claims to the Liquidation Value;
Workmen and Employees: 1
Operational Creditors: 1-2 upon percentage of claims to the Liquidation Value;
Shareholder or Partners: 1
This may be noted that these representatives shall not be entitle to any remuneration or allowance under the Code and these regulations. However, the code do not bar creditors representative by the representative to reimburse the cost but in any case, any cost incurred by these representative shall not form part of the liquidation process cost.
The liquidator may facilitate the stakeholders of each class to nominate their representatives for inclusion in the consultation committee. If the stakeholders of any class fail to nominate their representatives, such representatives shall be selected by a majority of voting share of the class, present and voting. [Regulation 31A (3) and (4)].
Record and Information
Representatives in the consultation committee shall have access to all relevant records and information as may be required to provide advice to the liquidator under sub-regulation (1). It means where the liquidator seeks advise on additional matter, the liquidator may at his option provide the information. [Regulation 31A (5)] This record and information may be provided subject to restriction under the Code and Regulations. The Regulations do not provide any restriction; however, the Liquidator may take hint from the CIRP Regulations and should request a non-disclosure undertaking from these Representatives.
The liquidator shall convene a meeting of the consultation committee when he considers it necessary and shall convene a meeting of the consultation committee when a request is received from at least fifty-one percent of representatives in the consultation committee. [Regulation 31A(6)] However, it is not clear on what matter the Stakeholders’ consultation Committee shall “forced advise” where the liquidator has not called the meeting.
The liquidator should call meeting at reasonable intervals and keep the committee informed of developments.
The liquidator shall chair the meetings of consultation committee and record deliberations of the meeting. [Regulation 31A(7)]
The consultation committee shall advise the liquidator, by a vote of not less than sixty-six percent of the representatives of the consultation committee, present and voting. The advice of the consultation committee shall not be binding on the liquidator. Where the liquidator takes a decision different from the advice given by the consultation committee, he shall record the reasons for the same in writing and mention it in the next progress report. [Regulation 31A (9) and (10)]
Sale as Going Concern
The liquidator shall place the recommendation of committee of creditors made under sub-regulation (1) of regulation 39C of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (Insolvency Resolution Process for Corporate Persons) Regulations, 2016, before the consultation committee for its information. [Regulation 31A(8)]
Under Regulation 39C of those regulations, the committee (of creditors) may recommend that the liquidator (to be appointed) may first explore sale of the corporate debtor as a going concern under clause (e) of regulation 32 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (Liquidation Process) Regulations, 2016 or sale of the business of the corporate debtor as a going concern under clause (f) thereof, if an order for liquidation is passed under section 33.
Where the committee of creditors has not identified the assets and liabilities under sub-regulation (2) of regulation 39C of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (Insolvency Resolution Process for Corporate Persons) Regulations, 2016, the liquidator shall identify and group the assets and liabilities to be sold as a going concern, in consultation with the consultation committee. [Regulation 32(3)]
Assignment of not readily realisable assets
A liquidator may assign or transfer a not readily realisable asset through a transparent process, in consultation with the stakeholders’ consultation committee in accordance with regulation 31A, for a consideration to any person, who is eligible to submit a resolution plan for insolvency resolution of the corporate debtor. [Regulation 37A(1)]