The second topic our Contributors take on is the practice of appointing “independent directors” for troubled companies, often on the eve of bankruptcy. We received a wide range of responses from our Contributors with many feeling the process is “at least superficially, if not substantively, flawed” (Albanese). That was not a uniform reaction though and the diversity of our Contributors showed the differing views of the market. Many did not want the actions of a few bad apples to overshadow the essential role independent directors can play in “stabilizing” an uncertain situation (Heimowitz) and for calling out “bullsh*t” if necessary (Lederman).…
I agree with the premise that independent directors are necessary and, in many cases, critical to the chapter 11 process. I think the primary problem is that these individuals are often recruited and hired by the very people (and professionals) who are subject to scrutiny in a particular case. It becomes nearly impossible for recidivist directors to be truly independent when they are relying on these parties to hire them again in the next case.
Tell us what you think of recent decisions by the District Courts in the SDNY and EDVA reversing plan confirmation based on presence of non-consensual third-party releases? Did these Judges get it right? How do non-consensual third-party releases affect creditor rights (both positively and negatively)? What are the implications of these decisions more broadly for the efficacy and integrity of the Chapter 11 process?