For information only - not an official document

13 October 2015

Kenya enacts new insolvency legislation implementing UNCITRAL Model Law on Cross-Border Insolvency

Becomes 40th State to enact legislation based on the Model Law

VIENNA, 13 October (UN Information Service) - With its adoption of the Insolvency Act 2015 (published in the Kenya Gazette on 18 September 2015), Kenya has become the 40th State in the world to have enacted legislation based on the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Model Law on Cross-Border Insolvency. The Insolvency Act amends and consolidates Kenyan legislation relating to insolvency of natural persons and incorporated and unincorporated bodies, and at section 720 grants the force of law to the UNCITRAL Model Law as set out in the Fifth Schedule to the Act. The Insolvency Act will come into operation (in whole or in part) on such date as the Cabinet Secretary may direct by way of notice in the Kenya Gazette, but in any event will enter into force no later than nine months after its 18 September 2015 publication. The adoption of the Insolvency Act was announced at the 6th meeting of the INSOL International/World Bank Africa Roundtable on insolvency law reform in Cape Town, South Africa, on 12 October 2015.

The UNCITRAL Model Law on Cross-Border Insolvency, adopted in 1997, is designed to assist States to equip their insolvency laws with a modern, harmonized and fair framework to address more effectively instances of cross-border insolvency. Those instances include cases where the insolvent debtor has assets in more than one State or where some of the creditors of the debtor are not from the State where the insolvency proceeding is taking place. The Model Law respects the differences among national procedural laws and does not attempt a substantive unification of insolvency law. It offers solutions that help in several modest but significant ways. These include the following: foreign assistance for an insolvency proceeding taking place in the enacting State; foreign representatives' access to courts of the enacting State; recognition of foreign proceedings; cross-border cooperation; and coordination of concurrent proceedings.

The Model Law was drafted by UNCITRAL's Working Group on Insolvency Law, approved and adopted by the Commission in May 1997 and endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1997.

Prior to enactment of the Insolvency Act in Kenya, legislation based on the Model Law had been adopted in the following jurisdictions: Australia (2008); Benin (OHADA - 2015); British Virgin Islands; overseas territory of the United Kingdom (2003); Burkina Faso (OHADA - 2015); Cameroon (OHADA - 2015); Canada (2005); Central African Republic (OHADA - 2015); Chad (OHADA - 2015); Chile (2013); Colombia (2006); Comoros (OHADA - 2015); Congo (OHADA - 2015); Côte d'Ivoire (OHADA - 2015); Democratic Republic of Congo (OHADA - 2015); Equatorial Guinea (OHADA - 2015); Gabon (OHADA - 2015); Great Britain (2006); Greece (2010); Guinea (OHADA - 2015); Guinea-Bissau (OHADA - 2015); Japan (2000); Mali (OHADA - 2015); Mauritius (2009); Mexico (2000); Montenegro (2002); New Zealand (2006); Niger (OHADA - 2015); Philippines (2010); Poland (2003); Republic of Korea (2006); Romania (2002); Senegal (OHADA - 2015); Serbia (2004); Seychelles (2013); Slovenia (2007); South Africa (2000); Togo (OHADA - 2015); Uganda (2011); Vanuatu (2013); and the United States (2005).


The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) is the core legal body of the United Nations system in the field of international trade law. Its mandate is to remove legal obstacles to international trade by progressively modernizing and harmonizing trade law. It prepares legal texts in a number of key areas such as international commercial dispute settlement, electronic commerce, insolvency, international payments, sale of goods, transport law, procurement and infrastructure development. UNCITRAL also provides technical assistance to law reform activities, including assisting Member States to review and assess their law reform needs and to draft the legislation required to implement UNCITRAL texts. The UNCITRAL Secretariat is located in Vienna, Austria , and maintains a website at

* *** *

For information contact:

Timothy Lemay
Principal Legal Officer
UNCITRAL Secretariat
Email: timothy.lemay[at]