School of Law

Professor Gerard McCormack

Professor of International Business Law

I was previously a professor of Law at the University of Manchester as well as Professor of Law and Dean of the School of Law at the University of Essex.

I have taught at Queens University Belfast and the University of Southampton. I have also been a Visiting Professor in Singapore and a Marie Curie Fellow at the Centre for European Law and Politics, University of Bremen.

Research Interests

My research interests are in the corporate and commercial field, with particular emphasis on the interaction of law and business.

I also have an interest in property law and the harmonisation of law.

Currently, I am leading a team from the School of Law at the University of Leeds in a research project commencing in February 2017 that looks at 'Boosting growth through strengthening investor and creditor protection in China: How China can learn from the UK experience.'

This project has been funded by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) under its flagship Global Challenges Research Fund.  The Leeds funding is approximately £325K with an additional sum in excess of £200K going to our research collaborators in the Management School at the University of Wuhan. 

The principal research objective is to address whether and how growth in China can be sustained through development and reform of the financial and legal system taking on board both the historical experience in the UK and the interaction between the formal legal environment and less formal behavioural norms.

I have also been Principal Investigator on a number of projects that have been funded by the European Commission to the extent of €800,000.

One project - “Security Rights and the European Insolvency Regulation” - critically  evaluates the provisions governing rights in rem (security rights) and transactional avoidance in the European Insolvency Regulation and addresses whether there is scope for reform of the law.  The research findings have now been published in book form by Intersentia - http://intersentia.com/en/security-rights-and-the-european-insolvency-regulation.html

The second – a study for the Commission on substantive insolvency law and the prospects for greater EU harmonisation – involved colleagues Andrew Keay, Sarah Brown and Judith Dahlgreen from the University of Leeds, and a team of national reporters collecting data on insolvency law matters in the 28 EU Member States.  The Leeds project team then carried out horizontal, cross-cutting analysis of the data; identifying areas where  disparities in national laws produce problems that have impacts outside national boundaries. The comparative evaluation and analysis is approached from the perspective of creating an environment that tries to avert business and personal economic failure but, at the same time, sanctions severely conduct that constitutes an abuse of the fundamental freedoms underpinning the EU legal order. The report and analysis is intended to achieve a greater concordance between insolvency law, the regulatory instruments of insolvency practice, and the Europe 2020 growth strategy of fostering economic recovery and sustainable growth.  The objective is to facilitate a situation where economic and social systems are adaptable, resilient and fair; where economic activity is sustainable and where human values are respected.

The results have been published in book form by Edward Elgar - http://www.e-elgar.com/shop/european-insolvency-law

Teaching

My postgraduate teaching is in the areas of International Corporate Rescue, International Insolvency Law, International Law of Credit and Security and International Trade Finance Law.

In recent years I have also taught trusts at undergraduate level.

PhD Supervision

I have successfully supervised PhD students, including those working on International harmonisation efforts, comparative bankruptcy and insolvency law, legal reform in China, corporate governance with particular reference to developing countries, banking and (Islamic banking) law.

I welcome applications from candidates in these and other areas of international and business law.

Key Publications

Books

  • McCormack G, Keay A, Brown S, European Insolvency Law Reform and Harmonisation ([n.pub.], 2017)

    Critically analysing the substantive law of insolvency in the EU countries as a whole, this book carries out horizontal cross-cutting analysis of the data gathered from a study of national insolvency laws.

  • McCormack G, Secured Credit and the Harmonisation of Law (Edward Elgar, 2011)
    DOI: 10.4337/9780857933454

    This is a very timely book that addresses an important subject, namely, attempts to harmonise the law governing secured transactions.

  • McCormack G, Corporate Rescue Law - An Anglo-American Perspective (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2008), 1-307

    Author URL [www.e-elgar.com]

    This book offers and unprecedented and detailed comparative critique of Anglo-American corporate bankruptcy law. It challenges the standard characterisation that US law in the sphere of corporate bankruptcy is 'pro-debtor' and UK law is 'pro-creditor', and suggests that the traditional thesis is, at best, a potentially misleading over-simplification. I conclude that there is some functional convergence in practice, while acknowledging that corporate rescue, as distinct from business rescue, still plays a larger role in the US. The focus is on corporate restructurings with in-depth scrutiny of Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code and the UK Enterprise Act.

  • McCormack G, Secured Credit under English and American Law (Cambridge University Press, 2004), xii,424p

Journal articles

  • McCormack G, Anderson H, ‘Brexit and its implication for restructuring and corporate insolvency in the UK’, Journal of Business Law, 7 (2017), 533-556
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/123325/

    This paper written jointly with a leading practitioner – Hamish Anderson of Norton Rose – addresses the potential implications of Brexit for cross-border insolvency and corporate restructuring in the UK, distinguishing between the scenarios whereby the UK ceases to be bound by Regulation 2015/848 with and without any replacement regime in place. The paper considers the existing UK law arrangements and considers some unilateral options for the UK, the EU and other Member States after the UK's withdrawal from the Regulation.

  • McCormack G, ‘Corporate restructuring law: A second chance for Europe?’, European Law Review, 42.4 (2017), 532-561
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/117309/

    © 2017 Thomson Reuters and Contributors. This article analyses critically the recent European Commission's Proposal for a new directive on corporate restructuring and a "second chance" for entrepreneurs. The article addresses the proposal in the context of the Capital Markets Union project and also broader international indicators such as Ch.11 of the US Bankruptcy Code. The article suggests that the proposal is Europe's answer to Ch.11 but is a work in progress rather than a fully finished product. It is also unwise to assume that if certain reforms are enacted, certain consequences will more or less automatically follow. Events in 2016 indicated that the direction of travel with the European project is not necessarily linear and one way.

  • McCormack G, ‘Business restructuring law in Europe: Making a fresh start’, Journal of Corporate Law Studies, 17.1 (2017), 167-202
    DOI: 10.1080/14735970.2016.1242206, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/105573/

    © 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This paper critically examines a new European approach to business failure and insolvency. It addresses the broader political dimensions of the subject and sets the new European approach in the context of the objectives of insolvency law to rescue viable businesses and to liquidate non-viable ones. The comparable US procedure – Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code – is used as a reference point for detailed analysis. The paper suggests that the new approach is of particular importance and adds value in those EU Member States that have underdeveloped restructuring frameworks. It is also suggested however, that any measures of legislative harmonisation should be of the minimum harmonisation variety leaving scope for regulatory differentiation and allowing national governments to build on local restructuring frameworks and domestic business practices that work well.

  • McCormack G, ‘US exceptionalism and UK localism? Cross-border insolvency law in comparative perspective’, Legal Studies, 36.1 (2016), 136-162
    DOI: 10.1111/lest.12096, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/87076/

    © 2016 The Society of Legal Scholars. This paper addresses how the UNCITRAL Model Law on Cross-Border Insolvency has been implemented and interpreted in the US and the UK. The Model Law has attained a measure of international acceptance and is intended to achieve greater efficiencies in the administration of insolvency cases with transnational dimensions. But different manners of implementation in different countries and differing interpretations may hinder the prospects for harmonisation and coordination of laws. The paper will address in particular whether US interpretations differ from those in the UK and whether the US decisions are so infused with 'American exceptionalism' that they cannot be relied upon as sure guides in other countries.

  • McCormack G, ‘Something Old, Something New: Recasting the European Insolvency Regulation’, Modern Law Review, 79.1 (2016), 121-146
    DOI: 10.1111/1468-2230.12169, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/91886/

  • McCormack G, Hargovan A, ‘Australia and the International Insolvency Paradigm’, SYDNEY LAW REVIEW, 37.3 (2015), 389-416
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/88861/

    Author URL [gateway.webofknowledge.com]

  • McCormack G, ‘Reforming the European Insolvency Regulation: A Legal and Policy Perspective’, Journal of Private International Law, 10.1 (2014), 41-67
    DOI: 10.5235/17441048.10.1.41, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/91885/

    This paper will critically evaluate the proposals for reform of the European Insolvency Regulation - regulation 1346/2000 - advanced by the European Commission. While criticised by some commentators as unsatisfactory, the Regulation – is widely understood to work in practice. The Commission proposals have been described as 'modest' and it is fair to say that they amount to a 'service' rather than a complete overhaul of the Regulation. The proposals will be considered under the following heads (1) General Philosophy; (2) Extension of the Regulation to cover pre-insolvency procedures; (3) Jurisdiction to open insolvency proceedings; (4) Co-ordination of main and secondary proceedings; (5) Groups of Companies; (6) Applicable law; (7) Publicity and improving the position of creditors. A final section concludes. The general message is that while there is much that is laudable in the Commission proposals, there is also much that has been missed out, particularly in the context of applicable law. The proposals reflect an approach that, in this particular area, progress is best achieved by a series of small steps rather than by a great leap forward. This is not necessarily an approach that is mirrored in other areas of European policy making.

  • McCormack G, ‘Bankruptcy forum shopping: The UK and US as venues of choice for foreign companies’, International and Comparative Law Quarterly, 63.4 (2014), 815-842
    DOI: 10.1017/S0020589314000396

    © 2014, Cambridge University Press. All rights reserved. This paper critically evaluates 'forum shopping' possibilities offered by the UK and US in bankruptcy/insolvency cases. While recognizing that in some quarters forum shopping has a bad name, the paper makes the point that strategic manoeuvring and transaction planning is what litigation and case management is all about. Certain countries are popular as forum shopping venues because of substantive law or the procedural advantages brought about by litigating in that country. The paper concludes that while the UK may have shut its doors too firmly against foreign forum shoppers, the US is too much a safe haven. The paper calls for a measure of jurisdictional restraint through raising entry barriers. While a bit of jurisdictional competition in insolvency law-making may be no bad thing, the US approach runs the risk of undermining important policies considered important by other countries such as the protection of employees and the public purse. It is also asymmetrical in that US bankruptcy jurisdiction is assumed in situations where, if foreign countries had acted on a similar basis, US recognition of the foreign proceedings would be denied.

  • McCormack G, ‘Reconciling European conflicts and insolvency law’, European Business Organization Law Review, 15.3 (2014), 309-336
    DOI: 10.1017/S1566752914001153

    © 2014 T.M.C.ASSER PRESS. Abstract This paper focuses critically on European conflicts and insolvency law - examining and evaluating the relationship between the Jurisdiction and Judgments Regulation and the Insolvency Regulation. The Regulations are founded on the notion of judicial cooperation in civil matters linked to maintaining and developing an area of freedom, security and justice. The paper asks whether these high-minded ideals have been achieved in practice. It also asks whether the recent recasting of the Jurisdiction and Judgments Regulation, and the proposals for revision of the Insolvency Regulation will improve the situation. The paper concludes that the ideals have not quite been achieved and the reform proposals provide only a partial solution.

  • McCormack G, ‘Conflicts, avoidance and international insolvency 20 years on: a triple cocktail’, Journal of Business Law 2013, 141-159

  • McCormack G, ‘UNCITRAL, security rights and the globalisation of the US Article 9’, Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly, 62 (2011), 485-504

  • McCormack G, ‘American Private Law Writ Large?: The UNCITRAL Secured Transactions Guide’, International and Comparative Law Quarterly, 60 (2011), 597-625

  • McCormack G, ‘Reconstructing European Insolvency Law: Putting in Place a New Paradigm’, Legal Studies 2010, 126-146
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1748-121X.2009.00147.x

  • McCormack G, ‘Jurisdictional Competition and Forum Shopping in Insolvency Proceedings’, Cambridge Law Journal, 68 (2009), 169-197
    DOI: 10.1017/S0008197309000075

  • McCormack G, ‘Corporate Rescue Law in Singapore and the Appropriateness of Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code as a Model’, Singapore Academy of Law, 20.Special issue (2008), 396-437

Media Contact Areas

I am happy to talk to the media about the following areas:

  • corporate and commercial law, with particular emphasis on the interaction of law and business
  • property law
  • the harmonisation of law.

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