Abusing business rescue proceedings by a director and its impact on King IV™ ethics of good corporate governance
Author: Simphiwe P Phungula
Affiliations: LLB, LLM, PhD (UKZN)
Source: Journal of Corporate and Commercial Law & Practice, Volume 9 Issue 1, 2023, p. 25 – 42
In the past few years, the impact of COVID-19 in South Africa has given rise to the need for business rescue proceedings for financially distressed businesses. Moreover, the looting, unrest, and floods in certain parts of South Africa have exacerbated businesses’ financial stress. To help financially distressed companies in South Africa, the Companies Act 71 of 2008 has introduced a business rescue procedure aimed at helping these ailing companies. This mechanism aims to rehabilitate financially distressed companies so that they become solvent again and, if that is not possible, yield a better return for the company’s creditors or shareholders than would result from the immediate liquidation of the company. Unfortunately, since the introduction of business rescue, evidence has shown that sometimes companies resort to business rescue proceedings to seek refuge from creditors even if the facts do not justify that the company should commence business rescue. In most cases, the abuse of business rescue is done by directors who pass a resolution that the company should embark on business rescue even if evidence shows that the company should not commence the proceedings. This is done notwithstanding the principles of the King IV Report on Corporate Governance™ (King IV™), which requires ethics and good governance on the part of directors. This article demonstrates how the abuse of business rescue can impact the principles of good governance and ethics of King IV™. It argues that directors should rethink their corporate practices and ethical standards when passing a resolution to commence business rescue proceedings.