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Tuesday, 19 October 2021

10th Annual Cape Town Convention Academic Project Conference held  in CambridgeThe 10th Annual Cape Town Convention Academic Project Conference took place at Robinson College, University of Cambridge, and on Zoom on 29-30 September 2021. The Conference was organised by the Cape Town Convention Academic Project, which is a partnership between UNIDROIT and the University of Cambridge Faculty of Law, under the auspices of the Centre for Corporate and Commercial Law (3CL), and organised by Professor Louise Gullifer (Cambridge University). The Aviation Working Group is the founding sponsor of the project. The Conference, which about 150 people attended, took place in hybrid form, with many people participating online from all over the world, as well as a good number of people attending in person. As with previous conferences, attendees participated enthusiastically in focused discussion of the papers presented, and those attending in person had the opportunity of more general discussion of Cape Town issues throughout the two days.

The first day of the Conference marked the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Cape Town Convention and the Aircraft Protocol, and included a Keynote Address by Professor Sir Roy Goode (Oxford University), the author of the Official Commentary. Presentations examined the global impact of the CTC in the future, both in a post-pandemic world (Professor Ignacio Tirado, Secretary-General of UNIDROIT) and in relation to ESG issues (Dr Ben Caldecott (Oxford University) and Jeffrey Wool (AWG, Oxford University)). There was also a examination of the legal and economic perspectives of the CTC by an international panel (Professor Anna Veneziano (Deputy Secretary-General of UNIDROIT), Daniel C. da Silva (Boeing Capital), Professor Vadim Linetsky (Northwestern University), Professor Julian Franks (London Business School), Professor Oren Sussman (Oxford University) and Jeffrey Wool.

The second day comprised four sessions focused on specific issues related to insolvency law, all of which had become of great significance during the pandemic. A panel discussion focused on the definition of ‘Insolvency Proceedings’ in Art 1(l) of the CTC in the context of schemes of arrangement. Academic views from Professor Riz Mokal (South Square Chambers, UCL), Dr Felix Steffek (Cambridge University) were complemented by views from practitioners Kenneth Gray (Norton Rose Fulbright), an asset finance specialist and Philip Hertz (Clifford Chance), who specialises in insolvency and restructuring.

10th Annual Cape Town Convention Academic Project Conference held  in CambridgeThe significance in cross-border insolvency of Art XXX(4) of the Aircraft Protocol was examined by Professor Irit Mevorach (University of Nottingham), who examined, in particular, the concept of COMI as it is used to identify the Primary Insolvency Jurisdiction as defined in Art 1(n) of the Aircraft Protocol. This paper was commented on by Dr Kristin Van Zwieten (Oxford University) and Jeffrey Wool (AWG; Oxford University). The phrase ‘give possession’ in Art XI Alt A (2)of the Aircraft Protocol is shortly to be examined by the High Court of Australia, and Professor David Brown (University of Adelaide) presented a paper on the issues, with comments from John Canning (KWM). Finally, William Piels (Holland & Knight) and William Glaister (Clifford Chance) gave a joint presentation on the scope and application in insolvency proceedings of Art XI Alt A (10), that is, that ‘No obligations of the debtor under the agreement may be modified without the consent of the creditor’. In the situation that has arisen during the pandemic, each of the provisions examined at the conference have become of considerable significance, and the presentations and general discussion made an important contribution to moving the debate forward.