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Valedictory lecture professor Wessels

In his valedictory lecture (Leiden, April 14th, 2014), with the title ‘Teaching and Research in International Insolvency Law: Challenges and Opportunities’ prof. Bob Wessels observed (with many examples and footnotes) that, compared with some thirty years ago, the landscape of insolvency cases with international effects has changed drastically. In his lecture he touched on some distinct aspects of international insolvency law, namely of teaching and research in this complex field.

On comparative and international research Bob Wessels explained several of the pending research projects at the Leiden Law School. One theme is a traditional one, it is related to substantive law. How can we solve the conflict between principles of contract law and corporate law with the evolving principles of insolvency law? That theme will be dealt with in ELI’s Business Rescue Project.

Then it was underlined that Leiden’s research rather uniquely follows a distinctively different approach to harmonisation of (substantive and procedural) laws, which is looking at the organisational structure within which such laws operate. For matters of insolvency the most important actors in nearly any insolvency proceeding in Europe are the court and the insolvency administrator. In the lecture the development and importance is described of the project, commissioned by the largest European insolvency practitioners association, INSOL Europe, of a set of Principles and Best Practices for Insolvency Office Holders (‘IOHs’). Another project relates to research on the promotion and harmonising of judicial cooperation, so called cooperation between courts in different Member States, in cross-border insolvency cases. It is known as the JudgeCo Project in which EU Cross-Border Insolvency Court-to-Court Cooperation Principles and Guidelines have been drafted.

A final word in the lecture relates to the involvement of Leiden master students in these projects. Bob Wessels submitted that their participation will greatly enhances their knowledge and more generally will prepare them much better for legal practice. The research involves an in-depth analysis of specific topics, such as the independency of a judge, the integrity of an insolvency administrator, the efficient and effectiveness of legal proceedings or the concept of conflicts of interests. These are themes of utmost importance in nearly every legal job. Also, a close involvement in creating non-binding rules and the importance of its effect for behaviour in insolvency cases or the adaptability of soft-law by courts provide master students valuable insights in how law is formed through practice. For a selected version of the text of the valedictory lecture, see the weblog of Bob Wessels.