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Seasoned Restructuring and Insolvency Expert, Bill Gambrill, Joins Martelli McKegg Litigation Team as Special Counsel At Critical Time

By Jacque Lethbridge - 26 Mar 2020

The Martelli McKegg team are pleased to announce that Bill Gambrill joined the litigation team in early 2020. Bill brings a wealth of experience in insolvency, banking and financing advice and litigation, having practised in one of New Zealand's largest law firms, before heading to Dubai in 2005. In Dubai, Bill's commercial litigation practice included insolvency, conflict of laws, financial services, real estate disputes, construction and employment. Bill is working closely with Jacque Lethbridge focusing on restructuring and insolvency, and general commercial litigation and advice, which will be critical areas of legal practice over the coming months.

Below is Bill's commentary on recent changes to insolvency law in Australia, which policy-makers might well consider adopting in New Zealand:

Even for those working in the insolvency field, these are times unlike any in living memory: countries are responding to COVID-19 in a way which, in most cases, would have been unimaginable just a few days ago. The economic impact of those responses will be profound, and the consequences are already being widely discussed: a likely outcome will be, what has been called, a "wall of insolvencies" (

As part of its response, Australia has made major changes to its substantive insolvency law, and has enacted those changes through legislation in a matter of days (See Australian Government Treasury: These changes include the following:

  • A creditor of a company can now only issue a statutory demand as a means of commencing winding-up proceedings if the debt is AU$20,000 (previously it was AU$2,000);
  • A creditor can now only commence bankruptcy proceedings if an individual owes AU$20,000 (previously it was AU$5,000);
  • In both cases, the time-frame to pay any amount demanded under a statutory demand or bankruptcy proceedings has been extended from 21 days to six months; and
  • Company directors will be temporarily relieved of their obligation to ensure that a company is not trading while insolvent (and the potential personal liability associated with that).

All of these changes will be effective for a period of six months.

While there are still some areas in which it is not clear what the effects will be, the changes to Australian law mean that a business which has cash-flow problems should be able to continue to trade without the risk of immediate winding-up (for a company) or bankruptcy (for a sole trader), and without exposing directors to personal liability for continuing.

So far, the New Zealand Government's approach has been to offer financial assistance to businesses, without proposing any changes to underlying insolvency law. However, given the speed at which developments have been occurring, it might be that the Government does make changes to the substantive law, and does so sooner than any of us previously thought would have been possible.


Jacque Lethbridge

Bill Gambrill


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