Plessers: the ECJ on a Killing Spree in the Belgian Insolvency Landscape?

Setting the Boundaries of Articles 3–5 of Council Directive 2001/23/EC in the Aftermath of Smallsteps

Yesterday, Advocate General (AG) Szpunar delivered his opinion in Plessers (C-509/17), a case before the European Court of Justice (ECJ) that concerns the protection of employees in one of the Belgian insolvency proceedings, i.e. the judicial reorganisation by transfer under judicial supervision/gerechtelijke reorganisatie door overdracht onder gerechtelijk gezag (hereinafter referred to as ‘GROG’). If the ECJ follows the interpretation by AG Szpunar of Articles 3-5 of Council Directive 2001/23/EC (hereinafter the ‘Directive’), the referring court would have almost no other option than to rule that Article 61(3) WCO (now: Article XX.86, §3 WER) violates the Directive.

 

Background

On 23 April 2012, NV Echo entered into a judicial reorganisation by way of collective agreement. However, a collective agreement could not be reached, and on 19 February 2013, the judicial reorganisation proceeding was transformed into a GROG. On 22 April 2013, NV Prefaco took over the business of NV Echo together with two-thirds of the total employees of the transferor.

Plessers, who was one of the dismissed employees, argued (among other things) that Article 61(3) WCO violates the Directive. Continue reading “Plessers: the ECJ on a Killing Spree in the Belgian Insolvency Landscape?”

The ECJ in “Estro/Smallstep” on the Dutch pre-pack in relation to article 5(1) of Directive 2001/23

A red flag for the pre-pack as we know it?

In its preliminary ruling of today, the ECJ has decided that the Dutch pre-pack does not come under the derogation in Article 5(1) of Directive 2001/23. The reasoning of the ECJ will have important consequences for the pre-pack-practice and (draft) legislation in all European Member States, including Belgium, Germany, France and the United Kingdom.

Background: Project Butterfly

In November 2013, Estro Groep BV (with 380 establishments and 3.600 employees the largest childcare company in the Netherlands) entered into financial distress. Since plan A, i.e. consulting its lenders and principal shareholders in order to obtain further financing, was unsuccessful, “Project Butterfly” came into force. Under Project Butterfly, a significant part of Estro Group would be transferred pursuant to a pre-pack: 243 centers out of 380 would be saved and 2.500 employees out of 3.600 would keep their job. Continue reading “The ECJ in “Estro/Smallstep” on the Dutch pre-pack in relation to article 5(1) of Directive 2001/23”