Featured Members

Simon Passfield

How did you first become involved in the world of restructuring and insolvency?

In early 2009, I was undertaking the Bar Vocational Course and searching for a commercial chancery related pupillage. I returned from the pub one evening, checked the Online Pupillage Application System and discovered that Guildhall Chambers was advertising for a specialist insolvency pupillage commencing that September. I applied immediately and was fortunate enough to be successful.

What is the best part of your job?

Being able to help shape the development of insolvency law and practice, particularly in evolving areas of jurisprudence.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

Dealing with urgent, high-pressure and time-sensitive cases whilst juggling my existing case load (and attempting to maintain some semblance of a personal life).

If you had not been a lawyer what other job would you have done, would you have enjoyed that job better and would you have been any good at it?

Whilst at university, I played the bass guitar in a semi-professional functions band called “the Divide”. In 2017, we reunited for one night only to play at the lead singer’s wedding and were offered a residency by the venue. Sadly, due to my other professional commitments, I had to decline. Although I have always loved the thrill of performing live music, I am not sure that I could have handled the precarious and peripatetic lifestyle of a full-time professional musician for very long.

What is your most memorable career moment?

In my early days as a newly bewigged junior barrister, I was instructed to attend Taunton County Court to represent a petitioning creditor in response to an annulment application. The bankrupt arrived at court with a large sports holdall which he claimed contained sufficient cash to pay his (not inconsiderable) bankruptcy debts in full and asked me and the Deputy Official Receiver which one of us he should give it to. Commendably, I was able to resist the temptation to claim to be the appropriate recipient and disappear into the sunset.

What do you think are the greatest challenges in our profession in the next 10 years?

Continuing to evolve the existing insolvency law framework to ensure that it remains fit for purpose as we move into the second quarter of the 21st century and appropriately responding to the rapid proliferation of artificial intelligence.

What is your favourite novel, film and piece of music?

My favourite novel is Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. I like to tell myself that my favourite film is The Godfather but I fear that the true answer is Twins (the 1988 cinematic masterpiece starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito as a pair of identical twins separated at birth). It is incredibly hard to pick only one piece of music but if pressed, I would probably plump for In My Life by the Beatles.

If you were able to repeal or change one insolvency rule or principle, which one would it be and why?

Whilst it would be tempting to reverse the reintroduction of crown preference, following the carnage caused by the decision in Manolete Partners Plc v Hayward And Barrett Holdings Ltd [2021] EWHC 1481 (Ch), the more pressing issue is to introduce legislation to enable officeholders to bring hybrid claims by way of an insolvency application notice rather than having to issue separate Part 7 proceedings.

What do you do in your ‘down time’?

Have adventures with my wife and son and discover that my advocacy skills are almost entirely redundant when it comes to a battle of wits against a 2½ year old.

Jam or marmite?

Jam

If you were able (and could afford) to retire tomorrow, what would you do?

Continue to practise at the Bar on a part-time basis but take far more vacation time.

What prompted you to join the ILA and what benefit of membership would you most recommend to someone who is thinking of joining?

My pupil supervisor, Jeremy Bamford was (and is) a member of the Council and was instrumental in the design of the then new website. During my pupillage, I was tasked with converting old bulletins into the now familiar format and provided with a place at the ILA Conference in Chester. As a result, I saw first hand both the quality of the ILA’s technical content (which is invaluable for anyone specialising in insolvency law) and the pedigree of its membership.

Simon Passfield

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