Law after Lehmans
28 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2014
Date Written: February 10, 2014
The September 2008 collapse of the Lehman Brothers group marked the nadir of the global financial crisis. While the regulatory aftermath has been extensively debated, the effects of the case law that arose from the insolvency have not. This paper explains the need to redress the balance. It starts by considering the quantity and qualities of the Lehmans case law, examining why the 30 plus decisions handed down by the English courts enjoy an unusually high precedent-setting potential. The paper proceeds by analysing the precedential effects of these decisions, and it reports on a recent workshop held at the London School of Economics that met to consider this question. Subject to the event’s terms of engagement, the paper draws out several themes from the discussion, including the impact of the Lehmans cases on the principles of contractual interpretation, the law of trusts and insolvency law. By way of conclusion, it is submitted that the impact of Lehmans case law reaches far beyond that particular insolvency, to worldwide users of standard form documents, the global financial markets and the common law itself. Seen in this light, the Lehmans case law is a significant, but under-appreciated, side-effect of the global financial crisis.
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