1. OBJECTIVES OF INSOLVENCY REGULATION

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The principles of territoriality and universality have been defended and challenged

on a wide variety of rationales. Not infrequently, arguments have been framed in terms

which are meaningful in national legal doctrine and tradition but of limited use outside

national discourse. The characterisation of insolvency proceedings as either belonging

to the statuta personalia or statuta rcalia is a clear example, for instance, Belgium's

tendency towards universality in cross-border insolvency law has been motivated by

classifying insolvency law as belonging to the former.1 According to English conflicts

doctrine, the rule of mobilia personam seqiiiintnr-in conjunction with the characterisation

of individual insolvency as an assignment by law - has resulted in the rule that foreign proceedings over individuals result in an automatic transfer of all the debtor's

interests in all movable property wherever located to the foreign trustee.' As it happens,

the United States Supreme Court's characterisation of insolvency law as an assignment

bv law produced exactly the opposite result. In Harrison v Sterry it held that 'the

bankrupt law of a foreign country is incapable of operating a legal transfer of property

in the United States'."

To gain a general understanding of the basic cross-border insolvency dilemma and

the traditional principles of territoriality and universality, the discussion should start

with a more functional approach to cross-border insolvency. It is therefore appropriate

to begin by describing the main objectives of insolvency law.