Centre for Commercial Law Studies

Sovereign Debt Forum

Queen Mary collaborates with Georgetown and Duke to address debt distress

13 November 2019

Panelists at the Sovering Debt Forum LaunchQueen Mary University of London has collaborated with Georgetown’s International Economic Law and Duke Law School to launch the Sovereign Debt Forum at the at the International Monetary Fund in Washington DC on 21 October 2019. The forum aims to assist low and middle-income countries with urgent sovereign debt policy problems.

Professor Rosa Maria Lastra, Sir John Lubbock Chair in Banking Law and Chair of the Institute of Banking and Finance Law at the Centre for Commercial Law Studies (CCLS), is an academic director of the forum with Anna Gelpern (Georgetown). Visiting Professorial Fellow at the School of Law at Queen Mary, Lee Buchheit, is also a Founding Director of the forum with, Mitu Gulati (Duke), and Sean Hagan (Georgetown). Professor Rodrigo Olivares-Caminal, Professor of Professor of Banking and Finance Law at CCLS and Mark Weidemaier of North Carolina University are affliliated scholars of the Forum.

The Forum comes in response to yet more pressure on low and middle income countries facing sovereign debt distress in the context of an increasingly complex lending landscape: “New actors and new forms of lending complicate creditor coordination and debt workout strategies. Countries across the national income spectrum are struggling to adjust to the new legal and institutional landscape. Opaque debt structures and outdated disclosure regimes compound the challenge.”

The Sovereign Debt Forum will support low and middle-income countries, at risk of sovereign debt distress, and those countries that have recently gained market access, with less debt management experience, by acting as a research hub, and a platform for capacity development and research development programmes.

The Forum’s activities will include:

  • Collecting and disseminating innovative, policy-relevant interdisciplinary research conducted by affiliated experts and other scholars on sovereign debt issuance, management, restructuring, and litigation.
  • Development and delivery of capacity-building initiatives focusing on the legal aspects of sovereign debt management.
  • Organizing conferences and seminars to bring together legal experts, researchers and practitioners from diverse academic, policy, and market spheres.

Rosa Lastra and Rodrigo Olivares-Caminal at the launch of the Sovereign Debt ForumSpecifically, the Forum will conduct at least two training programmes for government officials from low- and middle-income countries over the next two years. Faculty affiliated with the Forum will develop semester-long ‘practicums,’ where teams of students supervised by forum directors and affiliated experts will develop solutions for specific debt management or debt restructuring problems posed by governments, civil society groups, and others.

The Forum will also organise a series of conferences and seminars in 2020 and 2021, to take place in Washington DC, London, and other locations. Planned events include a series of seminars hosted by the Centre for Commercial Law Studies at Queen Mary, fostering a regular exchange of ideas on recent developments and policy challenges among academics, officials, market participants, Forum-affiliated experts, and students. The Forum will continue organising Interdisciplinary Sovereign Debt Research and Management Conferences (DebtCons) in partnership with other academic institutions.