Liquidation in the Mainland recognized by a Hong Kong court for the first time

On November 15, 2019, pursuant to the Shanghai Bankruptcy Court’s order under the Enterprise Bankruptcy Law (“EBL”), CEFC Shanghai International Group Limited (“CEFC”) went into bankruptcy liquidation. On November 24, 2019, the Shanghai Bankruptcy Court appointed the Shanghai Office of King & Wood Mallensons, AllBright Law Offices, and Fangda Partners as joint administrators of the CEFC Bankruptcy Case.

According to an application by the joint and several administrators of CEFC Shanghai International Group Limited (the “Administrators”) to seek recognition and assistance in Hong Kong, the High Court of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) ( “High Court”) made and issued the Order on December 18 and 20, 2019, and rendered the Decision accordingly on January 13, 2020, in which the Court recognized the liquidation in the Mainland of the People’s Republic of China (the “Mainland”) and the appointment of the joint and several administrators appointed by Shanghai No.3 Intermediate People’s Court (“Shanghai Bankruptcy Court”) and recognized that the Administrators have and may exercise the relevant powers in the HKSAR. All proceedings in HKSAR against CEFC are now pending. This was the first application in Hong Kong made by Mainland administrators for recognition of their appointment and judicial assistance under common law.

In order to prevent a creditor from obtaining a garnishee order absolute, on December 10, 2019 the Shanghai Bankruptcy Court issued a Letter of Request urgently to the High Court to request the High Court recognize the appointment of the Administrators and to allow the Administrators, to the greatest extent permitted under Hong Kong laws, to be entitled to the rights under the EBL and judicial interpretations. Based on the Letter of Request and other relevant materials, the Administrators made an urgent application to the High Court for recognition and assistance.

The Honorable Mr. Justice Harris granted the recognition and assistance sought by the Administrators. In essence, the orders invested in the Administrators the same powers in cross-border insolvencies as Hong Kong liquidators. This case is expected to promote a unitary approach in cross-border insolvency, and also be referred to as a precedent in the HKSAR, which will be cited in similar cases in the future.

For the first time in history, a bankruptcy liquidation in the Mainland has been recognized by a Hong Kong court in the HKSAR. It is also the first time in the history of Hong Kong courts that they will provide judicial assistance to the Mainland bankruptcy proceedings.