Bell Group Asset Recovery Litigation
Asset recovery litigation and appeals arising from the collapse of the Bell Group of companies against 20 global banks leading to the settlement of AU$1.7 billion in favour of liquidators, creditors and bondholders.
Representing Australian liquidator of Bell Group NV, a Netherlands Antilles incorporated company within the Bell Group (an offshoot of Bond Corporation), which collapsed with a deficit of more than AU$1 billion.
Lipman Karas led the appeal by Bell Group NV in the Western Australia Court of Appeal, increasing the compensation payable to the Bell Group from AU$1.7 billion to AU$2.8 billion.
Subsequent High Court of Australia proceedings were discontinued following a multi-party mediation to settle the claims against the banks. Litigation involving distributions entitlements of shareholders continues.
Bell Group Distribution Litigation
Following the recovery of $1.7 billion by the Bell Group, Lipman Karas represented the Australian liquidator of Bell Group NV in proceedings in the Supreme Court of Western Australia, Federal Court of Australia and High Court of Australia concerning the distribution of the recovered funds amongst the external creditors of the Bell Group.
These proceedings included issues of construction of funding agreements and bearer bond trust deeds, the operation of s 564 of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth), multiple proof of debt challenges, appeals against tax assessments, and the reinstatement of deregistered companies.
In 2015, the State of Western Australia passed legislation purporting to seize assets held by the liquidator of the Bell Group. Bell Group NV and others challenged the constitutional validity of the legislation. The High Court unanimously held that the legislation was invalid by reason of inconsistency with Commonwealth taxation legislation.
The distribution proceedings were discontinued in 2020 following settlement of the distribution proceedings and implementation of a scheme of arrangement.