A Dutch court is expected to rule next week that the former creditors of SNS Reaal are entitled to compensation for losses they suffered as a result of the bank’s nationalisation in 2013.
An expert report produced by the Enterprise Chamber of the Court of Amsterdam has already found that certain bondholders would have been better off if SNS had been liquidated or sold to private equity.
A ruling in favour of the stricken investors would have important consequences for anyone wanting to argue that decision-makers might have simply got things wrong when dealing with a bank failure.
But this is not the first sign that a court’s interpretations could come to bear on the newly minted framework for bank resolution in the EU.
Earlier this week, the EU General Court found that there was nothing wrong with the way in which Banca Tercas was bailed out using money from Italy’s deposit guarantee scheme in 2013. This is despite the fact that the European Commission had determined that Tercas had fallen foul of EU state aid rules.
Market participants are not yet certain about the read-across from the ruling for other struggling European banks, but it is clear that courts are beginning to play a much greater role in interpreting what is and isn’t acceptable to do when a bank collapses.
This should be of interest to all parties involved in bank resolution, because it shows that there are limits to the discretionary powers of those trusted with dealing with failing banks.
More things, now, are worth fighting for.