Overview of the 2020 Registrars Conference

On November 24, 2020, the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy (OSB) convened a conference for Registrars in order to provide a national forum for participants to exchange ideas on insolvency topics of common interest, to share best practices, to discuss potential improvements to insolvency processes and to discuss the application of insolvency laws in courts across the country, for the benefit of all stakeholders.

Registrars in Bankruptcy are officers of provincial and territorial courts with the powers and jurisdiction as specified under section 192 of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (BIA). Many important estate administration outcomes in Canada’s insolvency system are implemented through Registrars.

The conference was held virtually, in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and included over 60 participants from jurisdictions across Canada. Topics for the conference were proposed, selected and presented by Registrars. The presentations, covering the topics listed below, were followed by a discussion period between the Registrars. The topics were:

  1. Impact of COVID-19 on the Canadian insolvency system
  2. Legal, evidentiary and administrative issues arising in high personal income tax bankruptcies
  3. Tax bankruptcies and their claims
  4. The use of the discharge process to address fraudulent conveyances/preferences and transfers at under value
  5. Surplus income, payment conditions beyond surplus income and the viable proposal
  6. Serial insolvency filers with high tax debts and the integrity of the insolvency system
  7. Revivals of consumer proposals
  8. Taxation of Statement of Receipts and Disbursements – Trustees’ Remuneration

The Superintendent of Bankruptcy, Elisabeth Lang, concluded the conference by expressing her gratitude to all presenters and participants for their significant contribution to ensuring that Canada continues to have a well functioning insolvency system in spite of the challenges presented by COVID-19. She recognized their ability to adapt quickly to the pandemic by making increased use of technology and expressed hope that all stakeholders can continue to explore the use of technology, beyond the COVID reality. She maintained that by embracing technology, wherever appropriate, it is possible to increase the efficiency and accessibility of the insolvency system and reduce costs and undue inconvenience.

Superintendent Lang emphasized the important role played by Registrars in Canada's insolvency system. She noted the benefits arising from the fact that Registrars are able to consider the particular facts of the case before them and decide what's appropriate in the circumstances while noting that this can also give rise to challenges for stakeholders trying to reconcile different decisions across the country, in the context of a federal insolvency regime.

The Superintendent highlighted the importance of Registrars having the opportunity to discuss and exchange ideas on relevant issues, adding that she hoped the conference would contribute to a well functioning insolvency system in Canada for the benefit of all stakeholders. With this in mind, the Superintendent confirmed the OSB’s intention to host future conferences.