Friday, 15 January 2010

Insolvency Schemes and Alan Duff

Creditors Schemes are not used as much as they should. A careful and structured realisation of assets will always produce more for creditors than the well meaning and helpful, but hopelessly underfunded Official Assignee. I have written an update for schemes which is regrettably not online but is to be found in the New Zealand Law Journal “Insolvency Schemes under the New Insolvency Act” at 2009 [NZLJ] 47. This post is not however a link to the Law Journal, excellent publication that it is, but rather a comment on the recent attacks on Alan Duff, the New Zealand writer, who in making the conclusion that he could not make a living on publishing novels in New Zealand, decided to enter into property development. Alas, the ability to craft prose and the ability to craft money are not synonymous, and his venture failed. He then undertook a scheme of arrangement optimistically basing this on the sale of future novels he intended to write and publish. Not all his creditors agreed, and a finance company represented by John Weymouth, and Auckland lawyer, took exception to his proposal. Notwithstanding this, the High Court eventually approved the scheme and Alan Duff set off energetically to write his novels. He has managed to produce 2 so far with another on the way. While his productivity is to be commended, the novels have not been well received, and he concedes that too much haste may be an issue. What then stirred up trouble was that he joined a golf club. This enraged the finance company (or John Weymouth, I am unsure which), and they now want to cancel the scheme. The failure of the books to sell at bestselling speed may also mean the creditors will not receive dividends. Perhaps the story of the scheme would have made a better story than the novels-it certainly has drama, a courtroom battle and vivid characters!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010


To be consistent with established journalists lack of energy in the New Year I should, rather than write something new, just pull out something from 2009 and give it a retread. I thought about some of the silliness from the Sensible Sentencing fanatics, but that just turns my stomach. Instead I will talk about books and Kindles. You reach a stage in life where you become overwhelmed by books. Most of mine are still in storage, but even here they are piling up by my bed and overflowing the inadequate bookcases. Some would suggest that i should sell the unwanted but i am constitutionally unable to do this for most. I have no problem with law books which are out of date, but everything else I keep. And I don't buy many law books anyway. This decade may bring the answer with e book readers. I would be tempted by the Kindle, but it is not supported in New Zealand. The real use for gadgets like the Kindle is in court, where the entire case can be reduced to e book format and my law files could be swapped between my desktop and the Kindle. They would need to be added to, of course which would require the facility to add new pages from the letters and other documents coming in. And it would need a really good indexing system. Suddenly all of the paper in my office would disappear! Why doesn't anyone design a system like this? You saw the idea here first.