Review: Insolvent Investments

Insolvent Investments, Stewart J Maiden eds., LexisNexis Butterworth, 2015, Chatswood, Australia

This is not a read for the lighthearted. But, Insolvent Investments is a fantastic specialist textbook examining the system of managed investments schemes and their related vehicles. Insolvent investments are a complex and increasingly frequent part of litigation having particularly emerged over the last 15 years. These schemes and the sheer complexity of them takes up an inordinate amount of court time and judicial contemplation.

Managed investment schemes are governed primarily by 5C of the Corporations Act but the judiciary has often been called in to fill the gaps. Specifically, the courts have had to create jurisprudence on how to wind up managed investment schemes and define the duty of officers operating pursuant to such schemes, ultimately defining their obligations as arising primarily under the act and not in a strict fiduciary role.

Insolvent Investments covers everything from directors duties to the rights of third parties and the role of creditors verses the pecking order for allocation of assets following dissolution.

Insolvency and bankruptcy are key areas of legal practise that tangentially permeate so many different areas of law that every practitioner should at least have a fundamental understanding of to allow them offer their clients a full view of their obligations and options.

At the end of the day, if this is not your specialist area of practise, then you will need to consult a specialist. However, to consult that expert on a somewhat level pegging, this book certainly does take you a long way to getting there and will empower you to engage that practitioner from a level of informed knowledge, with all the power of an in-depth exploration drawing from the finest legal, academic and judicial minds dedicated to exploring this specific area of law.

This review has been written for the ACT Law Society who provided the writer with the book.
Tom Barrington-Smith is currently completing his Australian Restructuring, Insolvency &  Turnaround Association advanced certification to supplement his legal qualifications towards certification as a specialist insolvency practitioner.

Review: Law and Popular Culture in Australia

Law and Popular Culture in Australia, de Zwart et al eds., 2015, Lexis Nexis, 1st ed, Chatswood

Art holds up a mirror to society. The way that lawyers and the profession are portrayed in popular culture influences both the law and how the public interacts with it.

This is the premise behind “Law and Popular Culture”. Have you ever wondered about the principles of natural justice at play in a Zombie apocalypse? What the Wolf of Wall Street says about government financial regulation? and does a loveable rogue like Rake make the public think lawyers will bend the rules given the right circumstances?

Law and Popular Culture is not a work that will assist in general practise. However its contents are extraordinarily interesting to practitioners and fans of popular culture alike. The depiction of lawyers in works of fiction affects the public perception more so than lawyers often wish. If heeded, the understanding of the interplay between the public perception and fictitious depiction can assist a practitioner in understanding their clients expectations and pre-conceived notions of the way that practitioners operate.

In every depiction of the inevitable zombie apocalypse, the survivors choose certain laws to survive whilst others fall to the wayside. As a mild example, planning laws are obviously ignored to allow survivors to barricade their residence and often concepts such as provocation or self-defence hold up a bit better during times of extreme crisis but are still treated more flexibly.

This work is the only I have ever encountered that has compared the work of Plato (“Justice is an objective more valuable than masses of gold”) to the philosophy of
Dr Hibbert where the “smartest have no power and the stupidest run everything”. The U.S. conceptions of law and justice inevitably influence public perceptions through their cultural dominance but this text does give Australians credit generally for realising that US pop culture works are a tad more prone to being overly dramatic.

Law and Popular Culture also explores more realistic issues such as how the recently expanded data collection laws mesh well with pop culture comparisons like Orwell’s “1984” or prevention and crime profiling fits with Phillip K Dick’s “Minority Report”.

Law and Popular Culture is more of an anthropological study of law than a useful practise guide, but none of that diminishes the fact that it is an immensely interesting read.