Long-awaited legislation to create limited liability partnerships and modernise insolvency procedures were both expected to be included in yesterday's Queen's speech, write Lucinda Kemeny and our parliamentary staff. Trade and industry secretary Stephen Byers is now expected to introduce two Bills on the issues in the next session of parliament and bring forward a further Bill on e-commerce. The LLP Bill will allow accountancy firms to operate with limited liability for the first time. The profession lobbied hard for the changes with firms threatening to move offshore if it was not brought forward. English ICA deputy president Graham Ward said: 'We were told it had all-party support which was very positive and this is truly excellent news. There were some points of contention with the Bill but they were more clarification issues.' A separate Insolvency Bill will give small companies in financial difficulties 'breathing space' to get their affairs in order and allow a faster system to disqualify unfit directors. Under the proposals, companies would be able to declare a moratorium between finalising a rescue plan and putting options to creditors. It is designed to stop creditors forcing a company into bankruptcy. But many oppose the Bill as they believe it could put more emphasis on the role of monitoring during a moratorium. Insolvency specialist Michael Steiner, a partner in City law firm Denton Hall, said: 'The fundamental question for IPs is going to be what sort of monitoring they are going to have to carry out so they are comfortable that they will not get sued.' He said reputable IPs would be likely to charge more under these rules, which would run counter to the government's promise of offering cheap procedures. The second proposal would involve fast-track disqualification of directors no longer fit to hold such posts. News, page 10.
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