The newsletter of GBRW Expert Witness

February 2020

 

This quarter’s edition of Expertise focuses on two fairly specialised topics.

  • Most lawyers will be familiar with the publicity which surrounded allegations of LIBOR manipulation in the wake of the 2008-09 Global Financial Crisis and, more recently, the series of criminal trials which have taken place in the UK and US. This has led regulators to propose new benchmarks to replace LIBOR’s role for the $400 trillion of derivatives contract , bonds and loans which use it as a reference rate. Mike Trippitt provides a concise and detailed summary of the major challenges facing all parties involved and the current state of the transition process.
  • Trade Finance can seem an esoteric subject for non-bankers (and indeed for many bankers who have not been exposed to this field). Hugo Verschoren is a highly experienced Trade Finance practitioner who is currently delivering a number of courses in Egypt and Zimbabwe for our sister company, GBRW Learning. His article “Letters of Credit: Waste Paper or Digital Dump?” gives a very accessible introduction to the mysteries of Documentary Credits, why eDocuments provide major benefits… and why it will take time to introduce them.

Coronavirus

At the time of writing, the full implications of COVID19/coronavirus remain to be seen. The volatility of reactions in financial markets around the world suggests that uncertainty is widespread, with many commentators alternating between relative optimism and extreme pessimism.

In addition to the human dimension, COVID19 is already producing a range of impacts across the commercial and financial sectors. Various shares have soared or plummeted; travel cancellations and restrictions on movements of people and goods are expected to trigger a range of insurance claims; Government public health advice raises difficult issues for employers and employees (does your employer have to pay you if you decide to “self-isolate”?); and numerous sporting events and conferences have been cancelled (including several receptions planned for International Petroleum Week in London this week).

In one very specialised area, “pandemic bonds” issued by the World Bank which provide debt relief to help developing nations facing a serious outbreak of infectious disease are now trading at a discount of more than 40%.

The old adage to “Hope for the best and prepare for the worst” comes to mind, but what is “the worst” and exactly how to prepare for it is harder to define.

Paul Rex

Managing Director,

GBRW Expert Witness
February 2020

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