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internationallawsection.org                                                              Monday, October 10, 2016
The International Law Section Gazette
Section News

iLaw 2017 - The ILS Global Forum on International Law

On Saturday, October 1, 2016, during the plenary session at the ILS Retreat, Al Lindsay, Chair of the ILS and Robert Becerra, chair of the Conference Steering Committee announced that the new name will be iLaw 2017 - The ILS Global Forum on International Law. Jaqueline Villalba and Ana Barton and were recognized for their input in creating the new name. The next iLaw2017 Steering Committee meeting will be at Aballi Milne Kalil 2250 SunTrust International Center One Southeast Third Avenue Miami, Florida 33131 on October 12 at 6:30 p.m.




ILS Memorandum of Understanding with the New York Bar International Section

On September 26, 2016, the ILS and the  International Section of the New York State Bar  signed a  Memorandum of Understanding  to formalize their ongoing cooperation efforts. "This Memorandum comes at the end of two years of growing informal cooperation. We look forward to further developing the relationship to take advantage of the natural synergies shared by our two organizations", commented  Al Lindsay, Chair of the ILS .

ILS Chair, Alvin F. Lindsay and New York State Bar Association, International Section Chair, Neil Quartaro
MoU signing


Past ILS Chair_ Peter Quinter ILS member_ Daniel E. Vielleville ILS Chair_ Alvin F. Lindsay New York State Bar Association_ International Section Chair_ Neil Quartaro
From left to right: Past ILS Chair, Peter Quinter; ILS member, Daniel E. Vielleville; ILS Chair, Alvin F. Lindsay; New York State Bar Association International Section Chair, Neil Quartaro

From Our Members

Southern District Announces Potential Game Changer in Fraudulent Transfer Litigation

By Michael Tessitore and Jason Del Rosso*

Introduction 
When a debtor files a petition for relief under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, an estate is created by operation of law which comprises all property of the debtor wherever located in the world. 11 U.S.C.A. § 541(a); E.g., In re Aldrich, 250 B.R. 907, 910 (Bankr. W.D. Tenn. 2000). A trustee (or a debtor-in-possession in Chapter 11 cases) is automatically appointed to administer this worldwide estate for the benefit of creditors. The trustee is equipped with "strong arm" powers that allow him to recover property of the estate wherever located and to set aside fraudulent transfers wherever in the world they might have occurred. 11 U.S.C.A. § 544(a); In re French, 440 F.3d 145 (4th Cir. 2006) (setting aside pre-petition fraudulent transfer of real property located in the Bahamas). The power of the trustee in these worldwide recovery efforts was significantly enhanced by the recent decision of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Florida in In re Kipnis, No. 14-11370-RAM, 2016 WL 4543772 at *1 (Bankr. S.D. Fla. Aug. 31, 2016). In Kipnis, the court held that the trustee would now enjoy a dramatically extended limitations period, a ten-year period, for bringing certain fraudulent transfer claims in cases where the IRS is a creditor.

Facts and Reasoning of Kipnis
Prior to the commencement of his bankruptcy action, the debtor, Kipnis, claimed losses generated from a business transaction on his personal income tax returns for the years 2000 and 2001. The IRS then informed the debtor that these returns were under investigation. On March 22, 2005, the IRS issued an examination report determining that the returns were significantly deficient. The debtor appealed the examination report in the United States Tax Court, but the court ruled in favor of the IRS in November of 2012. The debtor then filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy case on January 12, 2014 which was converted to a Chapter 7 case on February 6, 2014. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee was appointed, and the IRS timely filed a proof of claim in the case.

On January 15, 2016, the Trustee filed two adversary complaints alleging that shortly after receiving the 2005 examination report from the IRS, the debtor fraudulently transferred a bank account and real property. The recipient of these transfers filed motions to dismiss the complaints arguing that both complaints were barred by Florida's four-year statute of limitations which applies to fraudulent transfer claims under § 726.110, Fla. Stat. In response, the Trustee argued that since the IRS was an unsecured creditor in the case, under the language of 11 U.S.C. § 544(b), he could "step into the shoes" of the IRS and enjoy a ten-year limitations period which applies to IRS claims under federal law. To wit, 26 U.S.C. § 6502(a)(1) establishes a ten-year statute of limitations from the date of assessment for the IRS to collect taxes.

In addressing these arguments, the court noted that although the IRS was required to prove claims to avoid fraudulent transfers based on applicable state law (such as Chapter 726, Florida Statutes), the statue of limitations for bringing such claims was governed by federal law. As mentioned above, federal law establishes a ten year statute of limitations from the date of assessment for the IRS to collect taxes, and 26 U.S.C. § 6901(a)(1)(A) provides authority for the IRS to pursue avoidance actions against transferees of taxpayer property. Reading these statutes together, the court concluded that it was clear that "[federal law] allows collection from transferees of the taxpayer 'subject to the same limitations' applicable to collection from the taxpayer." Thus, the court concluded that the IRS has ten years from the date of the tax assessment in question to "look back" and pursue an action to avoid a fraudulent transfer of property.

The court also examined the language of Bankruptcy Code § 544(b) which provides:
the trustee may avoid any transfer of an interest of the debtor in property or any obligation incurred by the debtor that is voidable under applicable law by a creditor holding an unsecured claim that is allowable under section 502 of this title or that is not allowable only under section 502(e) of this title (emphasis added).

It was conceded that the IRS was an unsecured creditor in the case with an allowable claim. Based on the foregoing statutory language and the IRS having an allowable claim in the case, the court concluded that the trustee may step into the shoes of the IRS under § 544(b) and utilize the greatly extended ten year limitations period to his advantage. In reaching this holding, the court primarily analyzed two conflicting cases: Ebner v. Kaiser (In re Kaiser), 525 B.R. 697 (Bankr. N.D. Ill. 2014) (holding that a trustee could utilize the IRS's longer limitations period under § 544(b)) and Wagner v. Ultima Homes, Inc. (In re Vaughn Co.), 498 B.R. 297 (Bankr. D.N.M. 2013) (holding that a trustee could not avail himself of the IRS's limitations period for § 544(b) purposes)).

In Vaughn, the court held that IRS immunity from state statutes of limitation was a publically held right and one not applicable to bankruptcy trustees because of the doctrine of nullum tempus occurrit regi (meaning "no time runs against the king"). The Vaughn court further explained that while the federal government should not be bound by state statutes of limitation when performing public functions, Congress did not intend to vest this type of sovereign power in a bankruptcy trustee, as such intent would result in unintended and "dramatic change[s] in the law." The legal reasoning of the Kaiser decision directly contradicted the arguments offered in Vaughn, and was fully adopted by the court in Kipnis in all but one respect (discussed below). The court in Kaiser found that the clear language of § 544(b) imposed no limitation on the meaning of "applicable law" or on the type of unsecured creditor a trustee can choose as a triggering creditor. Moreover, such a "plain meaning" analysis precludes consideration of policy concerns and legislative intent - which was the crux of the reasoning in Vaughn.

While adopting the logic and reasoning found in Kaiser, it is worth noting the Kipnis court declined to endorse the Kaiser court's conclusion that a broad interpretation of § 544(b) would have minimal policy implications. To the contrary, the Kipnis court opined that perhaps bankruptcy trustees have not "generally realized that this longer reach-back weapon is in their arsenal." In so stating, the court left open the possibility that such an interpretation of the statute could bring about major changes in existing practice, thus lending credence to the policy concerns espoused in Vaughn.

Conclusion
Kipnis could be a "game changer" in many Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases. The IRS has an allowed claim in a significant percentage of bankruptcy cases, meaning that in a substantial number of cases the trustee will now enjoy a "ten-year" look period for purposes of attacking transfers of property by the debtor as fraudulent. Kipnis, 2016 WL 4543772 at *5. This represents a significant change when compared to the current custom of trustee's generally applying a four-year "look back" period when analyzing the transfers by the debtor that might be actionable. The decision portends more litigation as more claims are likely to be brought by trustees seeking to recover property worldwide. It also portends more property being brought into bankruptcy estates to be liquidated for the benefit of creditors. The decision could therefore serve as a boon for trustees and creditors engaged in the worldwide asset hunt and as a significant hurdle for debtors who seek to shelter assets or to transfer property for less than fair value.

*Michael Tessitore is an A.V. rated attorney with Moran Kidd Lyons & Johnson in Orlando, Florida and a practitioner of international commercial litigation. Mr. Tessitore has served as Chair of International Litigation and Arbitration Committee of the International Law Section of the Florida bar and teaches international litigation and arbitration at the Stetson University College of Law.

Jason Del Rosso is a law clerk for Moran Kidd Lyons & Johnson in Orlando, Florida. He graduated with honors from Florida State University College of Law in 2016, where he served on the Board of the Florida State Law Review. 

Members News

Peter Quinter presents at the CABA on Cuba Conference

Peter Quinter, past Chair of the ILS and shareholder in Gray Robinson's Miami and Fort Lauderdale offices, presented at the Cuban American Bar Association (CABA) conference titled, "CABA on Cuba Conference" on September 23-24, 2016. Quinter was part of a panel titled, "Developments in U.S. Law and Regulations Regarding Cuba: Commerce, Travel, and Finance". CABA is a non-profit voluntary bar association whose members include judges, lawyers, and law students of all backgrounds interested in issues affecting the Cuban community, as well as broader legal and human rights issues impacting minority communities as a whole.

Upcoming Events

October 9-11, 2016 
The Atlanta International Arbitration Society (ATLAS) will host its 5th Annual Conference themed " International Arbitration in a Not So "Flat" World: Practical Considerations for Counsel and Their Clients". The event will take place in the Knowles Conference Center of the Georgia State College of Law. You can download the Conference's flyer by clicking here. Visit the Conference's website to register for the event.

October 12, 2016
The next ILaw2017 Steering Committee meeting will be at Aballi Milne Kalil 2250 SunTrust International Center One Southeast Third Avenue Miami, Florida 33131 on October 12 at 6:30 p.m. RSVPs can be sent to Robert Becerra(rbecerra@rjbecerralaw.com).

October 18-21, 2016
The 2016 Fall Meeting of the  American Bar Association Section of International Law will take place October 18-21, 2016, at the Tokyo Hilton, Tokyo, Japan. The Fall Meeting will feature more than 60 panels highlighting different aspects of the theme for the meeting - " The Pacific Century: Progress and Predictions". The ILS will be represented by two of its Past Chairs at this event.  Ed Mullins will be moderating a panel entitled "The Ballad of East and West:  Will Local Approaches to Litigation Affect TPP Investment Cases?"  Peter Quinter will moderate a panel on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The full program of the event is available here. To register, visit the ABA website. For more information on the event, you may also contact  Peter Quinter ( peter.quinter@gray-robinson.com).

October 27-29, 2016
The Caribbean Academy for Law and Court Administration (CALCA), in partnership with Jamaica's General Legal Council and the St. Maarten Bar Association, will hold CALCA's 4th Biennial Conference on Law under the theme "Law at the Cross-Roads: Reappraising the Role of Common Law and Civil Law Practitioners in Transnational Development", from October 27 to October 29 in St. Marteen. You can learn more about the conference by visiting the conference website

November 3-4, 2016
The International Bar Association will hold its Annual IBA Corporate Governance Conference in Miami from November 3 to November 4. The conference will feature lectures from distinguished speakers on topics that include c orporate governance issues for foreign subsidiaries, c yber security and the the application of US corporate governance rules to non-US corporations. Click here to download the full program of the conference. To register, visit the conference website.

November 13-15, 2016
The International Chamber of Commerce will hold its 14th annual Miami Conference on International Commercial Arbitration in Latin America at the Mandarin Oriental hotel.  The conference attracts approximately 550 participants representing about 40 nationalities and features a rich training and networking program.  For more information and to register for this event, visit the ICC Conference website.


Fall 2016 ILQ
International Law Quarterly (ILQ)
The Fall 2016 ILQ - Special Cuba Edition is now available to view and download here.



If you are interested in submitting an article in the next ILQ or have questions, please contact Rafael Ribeiro: rafael.ribeiro@hoganlovells.com.

Visit our Sponsors                                             
ILS thanks its sponsors for the 2015-2016 cycle
 
Global
Hemispheric
Regional
  • Aballi Milne Kalil, P.A.
  • Astigarraga Davis 
  • Centro de Arbitragem e Mediação-Câmara de Comércio Brasil-Canadá (CAM/CCBC)
  • Hogan Lovells
  • Lex International
  • White & Case
  • Akerman LLP
  • Bilzin Sumberg
  • Bryan Cave
  • Buckner, Shifrin, Etter, Dugan & Kohlman, P.A.
  • Fowler White Burnett
  • Jones Day 
  • Harper Meyer
  • Kobre & Kim LLP 
  • Tenzer PLLC

In light of what we accomplished this past year, we hope you will continue to support the Section as a sponsor. In 2015-2016, various firms, companies and suppliers sponsored the Section. We look forward to another year of innovative programs where we can advance international law and further promote our sponsors.  Contact Elizabeth Ortega at  eco@ecostrats.com   for more details.

  Become a Sponsor  for the 2016-2017 Cycle
The ILS Gazette

Editor: Fabio Giallanza

Chair: Alvin F. Lindsay, III
Immediate Past Chair: Eduardo Palmer
Chair-Elect: Arnoldo B. Lacayo
Secretary: Carlos F. Osorio
Treasurer: Clarissa Rodriguez