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The R3 Annual Conference returns – in virtual form!

07 June 2021

More than 500 delegates from across the insolvency and restructuring profession joined us for our first ever virtual Annual Conference, which provided four days of live and on-demand online content that combined the traditional R3 conference programme with sessions from the R3 nations and regions.

The conference began with a welcome from the event’s co-hosts, who looked back on the challenges and successes of 2020, highlighted the key findings from R3’s Value of the Profession report, and gave an outline of the 2021 conference agenda.


R3 Annual Conference


Better together 

Session one welcomed Dean Beale, CEO of the Insolvency Service, who shared his insights into the Service and the major challenges he thinks it and the profession will face in the months and years ahead.

The key takeaway: in his view, the profession and the Service work best when they work together, which was music to the ears of everyone in the audience.


R3 Annual Conference

Back to business 

The afternoon of day one began with a panel session about R3’s Back to Business UK campaign. 

R3’s new CEO, Caroline Sumner, began the session by explaining the campaign’s two pillars: ensuring the profession has the tools to fully support the economic recovery, and that directors and business owners understand the need to seek advice as early as possible.

She was followed by Alison Goldthorp, who outlined the campaign’s efforts to engage Government and industry, and highlighted the next project: training for directors and the profession around the new insolvency processes in the Corporate Insolvency and Governance (CIG) Act. 


New Professionals and the new normal

“Modern times, modern thinking, modern working” was the stand-out quote from day two’s New Professional Panel, which looked at the profession’s experiences working during the pandemic.

Despite the common challenges around staying motivated and developing professional relationships while working remotely, the panel reflected on a lot of positives: how quickly everyone adapted to the new situation, that small changes can make a big difference, and how everyone found better, more efficient ways of working. 

R3 Annual Conference

Pre-pack panel

Day two’s penultimate session, chaired by R3 President Colin Haig, was on pre-packs and the new legislation around connected-party sales.

The panellists agreed pre-packs still play a critical part in the restructuring landscape, as they are often the most effective tool for certain sectors, and situations where great speed is needed.


Lessons from our keynote speaker

 Mandy Hickson

Day three of the conference saw keynote speaker Mandy Hickson taking to the virtual stage to share her experience flying in a front-line Tornado squadron. 

With strong parallels drawn to the corporate skillset, Mandy demonstrated how her ethos of “dream it, believe it, do it” led to a successful career as a fast jet pilot in a squadron otherwise dominated by men.


Scotland, SMEs and CVAs

Mandy Hickson’s keynote address was followed by a session dedicated to restructuring in Scotland, with a particular focus on the SME market and CVAs.

CVAs had evolved from their original purpose of being a restructuring tool for SMEs into something more commonly used by larger firms, mainly due to the perceived costs, complexity and completion rates.

It’ll be interesting to see whether that changes post-pandemic.


Getting to grips with the CIG Act 

The last day of the conference began with a session on the CIG Act and business interruption insurance claims, with a panel chaired by Guildhall Chambers’ Stefan Ramell that looked at their experiences of the Act’s test cases.

Although Government support has meant a number of the tools introduced in the Act remain untested, it’s clear the Restructuring Plan will be a critical tool for businesses of all sizes as Government measures wind down.


R3 Annual Conference

Spotlight on the R3 Chairs 

On day four, R3’s regional and national Chairs came together to discuss the ever-changing rules around the reopening of the economy and the challenges posed by the change in the UK’s relationship with the EU.

The total effect of the pandemic on businesses hasn’t been fully understood – although hope remains for a gradual return to business as usual.

The session’s Q&A addressed the question of attracting the right people to the profession and how the profession will manage with a sudden increase in work.


Crossing borders, post-Brexit

The conference’s final panel session looked at the current and future outlook for cross-border asset recovery in Europe.

Insolvency and Companies Court Judge Catherine Burton kicked off the session, explaining while the UK can no longer rely on automatic recognition in the EU, the UK is in the rare position of having specialist judges who can consider recognition applications as a matter of urgency if needed.

Professor Christoph Polus from South Square offered a German perspective to the discussion and likened Brexit to a divorce, with the UK as the leaving party.


Concluding the conference

The conference closed with co-hosts Colin Haig and Christina Fitzgerald delivering their closing remarks, looking back at a year which has brought many challenges and many triumphs. 

Thank you to everyone who attended, our speakers and our sponsors:


A recording of R3’s Annual Conference is available to watch on demand. For more information or for tickets, visit:






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James JeffreysJames Jeffreys
Head of Press, Policy and Public Affairs
020 7566 4220
Stuart McBrideStuart McBride
Communications Manager
020 7566 4214
Jo TaconJo Tacon
Communications Officer
020 7566 4203

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