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Chambers China Restructuring & Insolvency: Amendment and Improvement of China's Bankruptcy System

Chambers China Restructuring & Insolvency ——Amendment and Improvement of China's Bankruptcy System  

钱伯斯中国破产重组篇——中国破产制度的修改与完善

As a legal system for rescuing distressed enterprises and regulating exit of market entities, the bankruptcy system not only provides a set of uniform, equitable and predictable rules but also plays an irreplaceable role in ensuring fair market competition, optimising business environment, promoting supply-side structural reform and facilitating economic growth.

作为挽救困境企业和规范市场主体退出的法律制度,破产制度为经济社会提供了统一、公平、可预期的市场规则和制度,在保障市场公平竞争、优化营商环境、推动供给侧结构性改革、促进经济发展等方面发挥了不可替代的作用。

It has been over 16 years since the promulgation, enforcement and development of the Enterprise Bankruptcy Law of the People's Republic of China. Bankruptcy under this law is a collective term referring to reorganisation, liquidation and conciliation. Compared to other laws, the relatively small volume of 136 articles in the Enterprise Bankruptcy Law limits its function in practice. With the economy growing, new issues and challenges have presented themselves in the insolvency sector. The judicial interpretations and other supporting systems are no longer in full competence to cope with complex practical issues.

自2006年中国现行《企业破产法》颁布以来,至今已逾16年之久。该法涵盖了重整、清算、和解三大制度,制度建立较为完整,但相较其他法律,整部《企业破产法》136条法条的体量使得操作细节尚有一定欠缺。随着经济的发展,实践对破产制度提出了新的问题和挑战,现行破产法及其司法解释等配套制度已无法完全适应实践需要。

China’s legislature put amendment of the Enterprise Bankruptcy Law into the 2021 legislation work plan, which aroused public attention. Some newly-introduced regimes, such as pre-reorganisation, substantive joint administration and cross-border insolvency, became the focus. The final amendment after further legislative research and deliberation is worth looking forward to.

为完善现行破产制度,中国立法机关将《企业破产法》纳入2021年度修法计划,引发广泛关注。目前,企业破产法修改工作仍在持续推动中,其中预重整、合并破产、跨境破产等制度的建立与完善成为了焦点。最终的法律修改成果有待进一步的调研及论证,值得期待。

With the improvement of the bankruptcy system as a core theme, China’s legislators accomplished several fruitful projects in 2021. One of the landmark projects is the Enterprise Bankruptcy Law enforcement inspection report published on August 18, 2021, offering a comprehensive enforcement review of the implementation of the law. Meanwhile, other laws related to bankruptcy issues, such as the Civil Procedure Law and the Company Law, were also included in the amendment work plan in 2021. Therefore an interconnected insolvency regime is expected.

以破产制度的完善为核心主题,中国在2021年开展了一系列代表性的工作。其中最值得关注的是,立法机关对《企业破产法》实施情况开展进行全面的执法检查,并于2021年8月18日发布了执法检查报告。同时,《民事诉讼法》与《公司法》等与破产相关的法律也在2021年迎来了修改,有望改善相关法律与破产法衔接的问题。

While the Enterprise Bankruptcy Law amendment is on the agenda, local legislatures have been also exploring bankruptcy-related legislations within their delegated legislative authority. In December 2021, the Hainan provincial legislature voted on and approved the Regulation on the Bankruptcy Procedures for Enterprises in Hainan Free Trade Port, an innovative step forward from the existing bankruptcy system.

在全国性的破产法修改被提上日程的同时,地方人大也在授权立法权限内探索破产相关的地方性立法。2021年12月,海南省立法机关审议通过《海南自由贸易港企业破产程序条例》,对现行破产制度进行了集成创新。

In addition, the personal bankruptcy system, which had sparked a national debate, was also formulated in 2021 as a local legislation. On 1st March, 2021, the Regulation of Shenzhen Special Economic Zone on Personal Bankruptcy came into effect. The regional implementation of the personal bankruptcy system has made progress and a few precedents of personal reorganisation, conciliation and liquidation so far have been considered attempts and exploration for future national personal bankruptcy legislation.

此外,之前引发全民讨论的个人破产制度也在2021年以地方立法的形式得以确立。2021年3月1日,《深圳经济特区个人破产条例》正式开始实施。目前,个人破产制度的地区性实施已经取得了一定进展,个人重整、和解、清算均已出现实践案例,为全国性个人破产立法进行了法律探索。

Besides legislative progress, the judicial practice has been active in the insolvency sector. The courts in China made efforts towards the development of a sophisticated bankruptcy regime, including the attempt worth noting to establish a mechanism for cross-border insolvency issues. In May 2021, the Supreme People's Court and the HKSAR government signed the minutes on mutual recognition and assistance in bankruptcy proceedings by courts, and formulated relevant supporting documents. Based on the arrangement, the courts in Shanghai, Xiamen and Shenzhen are designated as pilot courts on recognising and assisting bankruptcy proceedings in Hong Kong. Moreover, there have been other positive judicial explorations and innovations in practice, for instance those regarding pre-reorganisation, cooperation between government and court, and bankruptcy of financial institutions.

除了制度建设,司法实践作为破产制度实施的前沿阵地也不得不提,诸多破产制度在司法机关的努力下得到了进一步完善,其中建立跨境破产具体制度的尝试尤其值得关注。2021年5月,最高人民法院与香港特区政府签署法院相互认可和协助破产程序的会谈纪要,并制定相关配套文件,由上海市、厦门市、深圳市的法院具体开展认可和协助香港破产程序的试点工作。此外,实践中对于预重整、府院联动、个人债务清理、金融机构破产等亦有诸多积极探索和有益尝试。

There have been a number of typical cases with significant influence. The Supreme People's Court released the Typical Cases of the People's Courts Implementing the Bankruptcy Legal System in Building the Doing Business Environment and the Model Civil and Commercial Cases of People's Courts Promoting the High-quality Development of the Private Economy in 2021. For the latter, the first three of the ten typical civil and commercial cases are bankruptcy trial cases, showcasing the wider attention to the insolvency practice and the cases' influence. There has been a trend that the debt and asset amount of bankruptcy cases have been mounting and the complexity of cases increasing: the restructurings of Hainan Airlines Group and the Yurun family of companies are two examples, with both having a huge number of debt claims and a lot of affiliates under joint administration. Other examples include the liquidation of Baoshang Bank, the first commercial bank bankruptcy case in China, and the successful reorganisation of Peking University Founder Group Corporation and Tsinghua Unisplendour Corporation, two unique companies incubated by two prestigious Chinese universities respectively.

在进行制度建设和探索的同时,司法实践中也涌现了一批具有重大影响力的案例。最高人民法院在2021年发布了《人民法院实施破产法律制度 优化营商环境典型案例》与《人民法院助推民营经济高质量发展典型民商事案例》中,其中十大典型民商事案例的前三个都是破产审判案例,显示对破产案件业务的广泛关注以及这些案件的影响力。实务中破产案件的体量、规模和复杂程度也在不断刷新记录: 例如,海航集团重整案、雨润系企业重整案等债权债务规模巨大、实质合并企业数量众多的案例,引发了各界广泛关注和讨论;包商银行破产清算案成为第一起经由司法程序完成市场退出的商业银行案例;北大方正与清华紫光这两大中国最知名的校企也先后重整成功。

Bankruptcy judges and administrators with considerable expertise and experience are the cornerstones of smooth and effective performance of the bankruptcy regime. By the end of 2021, there were 15 bankruptcy courts and 28 provincial administrators' associations in China. The growing team of bankruptcy judges and administrators has been serving as a think tank for the amendment of China's bankruptcy law and a talent pool for the future implementation and development of China's bankruptcy law.

破产制度的有效实施和完善还离不开专门的破产审判队伍与高素质的管理人队伍,中国高度重视破产审判队伍与管理人队伍的专业化建设。截至2021年底,全国破产法庭数量已达到15个;省级管理人协会数量已达到28家。破产法官队伍与破产管理人队伍日益发展壮大,为中国破产法的修改健全提供了智力支持,也为中国破产法后续的贯彻实施与长足发展奠定了人力基础。

The effort to review and amend China's bankruptcy system lasted throughout the whole 2021. It is predicted that some companies will still face debt default crisis and distress risks under the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic and the new normal economy, and more market-oriented law-complaint insolvency restructurings are needed to resolve such crisis. Therefore, the amendment of Enterprise Bankruptcy Law will be necessary and provide a best answer in response to the need of the market and this practice.

2021年,中国破产制度的修改与完善一直贯穿始终,同时受全球新冠疫情等因素影响及在经济发展新常态形势下,可以预见在未来一段时间内,针对以高负债和产业结构调整为主要特征的各类风险,更需要市场化、法治化的化解实践。因此,完善修订企业破产法律制度十分必要,也将为市场和实践的需求提供一个最好的答案。

Bankruptcy is a fundamental legal system of the market economy. The implementation and improvement of China's bankruptcy system is in line with the economic development and the theme of economic reform. We expect a bankruptcy law amendment, which is forward-thinking and practical, applicable to all kinds of market players, covering cross-border proceedings, helpful in building a better doing business environment, and contributing to the high-quality economic development in China.

破产制度是市场经济的一项基础性法律制度。中国破产制度的实施与完善顺应经济发展需要,契合经济改革主题,未来应进一步朝着涵盖各类市场主体,兼顾境内外破产程序,更具前瞻性和可操作性的目标而努力,促进营商环境进一步优化,推动中国经济高质量发展。