Preparation for the Oral Board of Examination

The primary emphasis of the Oral Board of Evaluation is the extent to which competencies are demonstrated by candidates' answers to the board's questions rather than the extent to which knowledge is demonstrated. However, candidates are expected to demonstrate accurate knowledge and apply relevant legislation correctly.

As competencies relate to behaviour and how knowledge and skills are used, the oral board's questions normally relate to issues such as what people do, how they achieve a desired result, what they consider to be important and why, and their thought processes and rationale in reaching a conclusion.

In a professional context, a typical assessment of knowledge and skills is quite different from an assessment of competencies. Knowledge and skills are job specific, whereas competencies are generic in that they apply across many occupations. Competencies determine how people use knowledge and skills to enhance their performance in the workplace.

When assessing competencies, questions might be posed to explore:

  • What factors need to be considered?
  • What considerations are relevant to the question?
  • What are the pros, cons and consequences of various options?
  • What information needs to be gathered and what, if any, assumptions need to be made to provide a complete response?
  • What conclusion/advice would ultimately be reached?
  • How would you behave/react in a given situation/scenario?

Candidates should expect to be questioned on a broad range of topics during the oral examination. The following list contains possible topic areas, but is not to be considered exhaustive:

  • Commercial bankruptcies, commercial proposals, commercial arrangements, Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act, Wage Earner Protection Program Act
  • Personal bankruptcies, consumer proposals, mediation, assessment, counselling
  • Receiverships, interim receivers
  • Meetings of creditors, meetings of inspectors
  • Discharge of Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT), discharge of bankrupt
  • Duties and powers of the LIT
  • General administration of estates
  • Preferences, transfers under value
  • Realization of assets, distribution, classes of creditors
  • Leases, landlord and tenant

Sample Questions and Answers

During the oral board, both long- and short-answer questions will be asked. The following are sample short-answer questions. They are provided for illustrative purposes only.

Example 1

James McElroy is operating a struggling consulting business as a proprietorship. After several judgments and writs of execution are filed against him, he transfers one of his cars to his wife and takes a sizeable advance on his line of credit to pay an uncle. He knows his uncle will continue to support him. The uncle is not listed on the Statement of Affairs.

James files for bankruptcy and these facts become known at the first meeting of creditors, although exact dates and times of these transactions are unknown at this time.

The inspectors want to take immediate action on this estate and there is money to begin this process.

  1. What additional questions might you ask and why?
  2. What potential actions would the LIT discuss with the inspectors?

Example 2

You recently joined a firm with two LITs and the following situation has occurred during your first month of association with the LITs' firm:

One of your estate administrators, Ron, explains that GST refunds, in excess of the cost of administration of the estate, including LITs’ fees and disbursements, are being used to fund bankrupts’ conditional discharge orders. He tells you that the bankrupts sign a document at the time they are swearing to the content of the Statement of Affairs, which permits the LIT to apply funds that have been received from GST refund cheques against an unfulfilled conditional order of the bankrupt, if there is one.

How would you respond to this situation?

Listen to an example of what is considered to be a proficient answer to this question:Footnote *

This is considered to be a proficient answer because:

  1. The answer identifies the legal issue, namely that Rule 59 states that GST credits are not property of the estate if a dividend is available to creditors without taking the payment into account. GST credits can only be retained by the LIT to cover the LIT’s fees where no other funds are available. This demonstrates judgment and professional skills.
  2. The answer identifies the ethical issue. The candidate recognizes an improper practice by his employers of requiring all debtors to sign a document agreeing to allow the LIT to use GST credits for a purpose other than that stated in Rule 59. This demonstrates ethics.
  3. The answer proposes a solution and takes ownership of the issue. It demonstrates effective judgment and strategic thinking in the solution to talk to his employers about how to address the situation going forward. It proposes a concrete solution after exploring the considerations, namely to allow debtors to have access to the GST and allow them to decide if they wish to apply those funds to any outstanding conditions of discharge. This demonstrates strategic thinking.
  4. The answer coherently describes the relevant considerations that lead to a clear conclusion. This demonstrates ability to communicate orally.

Preparation Suggestions

Although individual approaches to preparing for the oral board will vary, candidates may wish to consider the following suggestions:

  1. Prepare draft questions and answers. Questions should be prepared covering a broad range of insolvency situations. Candidates may wish to consider how they would be able to demonstrate the competencies being measured as they develop possible answers. To achieve this goal, candidates are encouraged to communicate the relevant thoughts and considerations that help them formulate a position. While many aspects of our work may have become intuitive, it is important for the oral board process that candidates verbalize their thought process and state any assumptions they feel need to be made in answering a question.
  2. Participate in one or more mock oral boards to obtain feedback from experienced insolvency professionals or fellow candidates. Prior to participating in a mock oral board, candidates should be sure to provide insolvency professionals with information about any changes to the oral boards so that the insolvency professionals can offer the most useful mock experience and appropriate feedback.
  3. Gain experience in a broad range of files and practice areas. This will assist candidates in being able to respond to the various insolvency scenarios presented during the oral board.