J. Ernst Degenhardt

Counsel, Düsseldorf



J. Ernst Degenhardt specializes in insolvency and restructuring law – both under German and French law.

He advises banks, funds and companies in connection with corporate insolvencies as well as distressed loans. In addition, J. Ernst Degenhardt counsels insolvency administrators on cross-border insolvency issues, complex (project) financing agreements and shareholder loans. Within these practice areas, J. Ernst Degenhardt, who is admitted to the bar in Germany, England and Wales and France, particularly focuses on advising German clients on issues specific to France and French clients on their business activities in Germany.

He has studied and worked several years in England and Paris where he graduated from the Universities of Oxford, Paris X and Paris II. Prior to joining White & Case in 2000, he has worked in the Paris office of the French-German business law firm Cabinet Storp & Associés in 1993 and 1995.

From February to September 2006, Mr. Degenhardt was seconded to the European Investment Bank in Luxembourg and was responsible for complex international project financings and restructuring issues.

From January to December 2007, Mr. Degenhardt worked in the London office of White & Case LLP.

Prior to joining the Düsseldorf office of White & Case in 2000, Mr. Degenhardt was a lecturer for business French at the University of Duisburg (1991-1993) and taught private law as a visiting lecturer at the Universities of Cologne, Bonn and Düsseldorf (1996-1999) and at the Academy for Administration and Economics at Düsseldorf (1999).

Ernst is a member of a number of professional associations, including the Cologne Working Group for Insolvency Matters and the French Institute of Insolvency Practitioners (Institut Français des Praticiens des Procédures Collectives - IFPPC). He is also a member of the Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, Law Society, Oxford Business Alumni (OBA) and of the Oxford University Society of Paris.

Please click here for the German bio.

Please click here for our German Restructuring and Insolvency website.

Bars and Courts
Avocat au Barreau de Paris
Solicitor of England and Wales
French Bar Exam
University of Oxford
Maîtrise de Droit Privé
University of Paris II Panthéon-Assas
mention bien
Second State Exam
Higher Regional Court of Koblenz
First State Exam
University of Cologne
Maître en Lettres
University of Paris X
mention très bien


Speaking Engagements

"Cross-Border Insolvency", Summer School on European Business Law of the Faculty of Law of the University of Duesseldorf, 23 July 2018, Duesseldorf

"The EU Perspective on Insolvency & Restructuring. How do the insolvency laws of selected Member States (in particular France and Germany) comply with the proposed EU directive?" at the International Insolvency & Restructuring Forum, 14-15 November 2017, St Helier, Jersey, organized by C5 Communications Ltd., London

"The Harmonization of EU Insolvency Laws: A Harmonization of Apples and Pears?", International Insolvency Institute's 17th Annual Conference, June 18-20, 2017, London

"Out of Court Restructuring Proceedings in France and their Place in the "Toolbox" - To which extent are they Out of Court‎? Has the French Legislator already done its Homework given by the European Commission on 12 March 2014?", 7th International Summer Symposium of the Institute for European and International Insolvency Law of the University of Cologne on "Out of Court Restructuring Proceedings in Europe", 26 August 2016.

"VAT in the Insolvency: Hidden State Aid due to Divergent Tax Treatments Throughout Europe?, Second German-French Restructuring Summit", German Ministry of Justice, 4 September 2015 (together with Dr. Guenter Kahlert).

"Treatment of claims (in particular treatment of shareholders' claims): comparative analysis", First German-French Restructuring Summit; Paris, 4 October 2013 (together with David Koch)


Selected publications include the following:

The Reform of the French Insolvency Laws to Transpose the European Restructuring Directive – Convergence of the German and the French Insolvency Laws? (Die Reform des französischen Insolvenzrechts zur Umsetzung der europäischen Restrukturierungsrichtlinie - Annäherung des deutschen und französischen Insolvenzrechts?), NZI – Neue Zeitschrift für Insolvenz- und Sanierungsrecht 2022, pages 201-205

The Reform of the French Insolvency Laws of 20 May 2020 to Cope with the Economic Consequences of the Covid-19 Epidemic – Anticipation of the Transposition of the Directive (EU) 2019/1023 of 20 June 2019 on Preventive Restructuring Frameworks? (Die Reform des französischen Insolvenzrechts vom 20. Mai 2020 zur Bewältigung der wirtschaftlichen Folgen der Covid-19-Epidemie – Vorwegnahme von Regelungen zur Umsetzung der Richtlinie (EU) 2019/1023 vom 20. Juni 2019 über präventive Restrukturierungsrahmen?), NZI – Neue Zeitschrift für Insolvenz- und Sanierungsrecht 2020, pages 720-723

Coronavirus (COVID-19) France—changes to France’s insolvency laws to deal with the coronavirus epidemic, Lexis PSL Restructuring and Insolvency, 15/04/2020

The French Cassation Court holds that the debtor is not obliged to file a petition for secondary insolvency proceedings (The Director of the Company Izoplac v French Republic), Lexis PSL Restructuring and Insolvency, 14/09/2018

The Director is Obliged to File for Insolvency Only in the Member State in which the COMI is Located (Le dirigeant ne doit demander l’ouverture d’une procédure collective que dans l’État membre européen où se trouve son COMI), Bulletin Joly Entreprises en Difficulté, Issue 3, Pages 225-228, 2018

The Harmonization of EU Insolvency Laws: A Harmonization of Apples and Pears? The French and German Perspective, Norton Journal of Bankruptcy Law and Practice, Issue 5, pages 601 – 629, 2017

The alleviation of the prohibition to manage effected by the lex Macron does not apply to insolvency procedures which are already opened, Bulletin Joly Entreprises en Difficulté, Issue 5, pages 349 – 351, 2017, (L'adoucissement apporté par la loi Macron à l’interdiction de gérer ne s'applique pas dans les procédures déjà ouvertes)

Rather not File Your Claim Than File it Badly or the Inducement to Forgery, Bulletin Joly Entreprises en Difficulté, Issue 4, 2017, pages 268 – 271 (Mieux vaut ne pas déclarer sa créance que la déclarer mal ou l’Incitation au faux)

Is the French Law in Conformity with the Proposal of 25 November 2016 for an EU Directive Aiming at Harmonising the Insolvency Laws – The Harmonisation of Apples and Pears, Bulletin Joly Entreprises en Difficulté, Issue 2, 2017, pages 153-158, (Le droit français est-il conforme à la proposition de directive européenne du 25 novembre 2016 visant à harmoniser le droit des procédures collectives ? L’harmonisation des poires et des pommes)

The Reform of the French Insolvency Law by the Laws for ‚Growth, Activity and Egality of Economic Chances‘ and ‚For the Modernisation of the Justice of the 21st Century’ – Further Convergence with the EU Targets, Neue Zeitschrift für Insolvenzrecht (NZI), Issue 5, pages 134-142, 2017, (Die Reform des französischen Insolvenzrechts durch die Gesetze für „Wachstum, Aktivität und Gleichheit der wirtschaftlichen Chancen“ und zur „Modernisierung der Justiz des 21. Jahrhunderts“ - Weitere Annäherung an die EU-Vorgaben)

The Pecking Order Still Upside Down in Insolvency Proceedings? The Compulsory Capital Increase and the Compulsory Transfer of Shares, Bulletin Joly Entreprises en Difficulté, Issue 6, pages 432-436, 2015, (La hiérarchie du bec toujours renversée en procédure collective ? L'augmentation forcée du capital et la cession forcée des parts sociales)

Towards a Dediabolization of the Diabolic Evidence? Allegation and Proof of the Cessation of Payments, Bulletin Joly Entreprises en Difficulté, Issue 5, pages 280 à 282, 2015, (Vers une dédiabolisation de la preuve diabolique ? Allégation et preuve de la cessation des paiements en cas d’assignation en redressement judiciaire)

A Journey through the Countries of Shareholder Loan Subordination, Bulletin Joly Entreprises en Difficulté, Issue 3, Pages 175-179, 2015, (Voyage à travers les pays de la subordination des prêts d’associé)

Case Note on the Judgment of the Commercial Court of Nanterre, France, of 24 October 2013: The Liquidator in French Secondary Insolvency Proceeding is Entitled to Sue the Former German Managing Directors on the Basis of the French Liability for Overindebtedness Action, IILR – International Insolvency Law Review, Issue 1, Pages 31-40, 2015

Accelerated Safeguard Proceedings with Cessation of Payments: Unjustified Privileges for Security Grantors Who Are Natural Persons?, Bulletin Joly Entreprises en Difficulté, Issue 1, Pages 60-63, 2015, (Sauvegarde accélérée en cessation des paiements: des faveurs injustifiées pour les garants personnes physiques?)

The International Effects of the Judgment Closing the French Debt Discharge Procedure, Bulletin Joly Entreprises en Difficulté, Issue 1, Pages 48-51, 2015, (Les effets internationaux du jugement de clôture de la procédure de rétablissement professionnel)

'Banks' Security Interests in Insolvency Proceedings – The, Limitation Language' Following the Reform of the German Insolvency Act by the MoMiG Act, Bankgeschäfte zwischen Markt, Regulierung und Insolvenz – Festschrift für Hans-Jürgen Lwowski zum 75. Geburtstag. Ed. Georg Bitter, Claus Ott and Herbert Schimansky. Munich, Pages 275-295, 2014, (Banksicherheiten im Insolvenzverfahren – die ,Limitation Language' in Zeiten des MoMiG) (with Undritz, Sven-Holger)

The determination of the assets of the debtor who applies for a discharge of residual debt (under French law): does one have to take into account assets purchased with retention of title and the separate estate of a sole trader with limited liability?, Bulletin Joly Entreprises en Difficulté, Issue 5, Pages 335-339, 2014, (La détermination de l'actif du débiteur sollicitant un rétablissement professionnel : faut-il prendre en compte des biens acquis sous réserve de propriété et le patrimoine affecté de l'EIRL?)

Settlement Agreements with Companies in French Insolvency Proceedings - Practical Guidance for Avoiding their Invalidity, IILR – International Insolvency Law Review, Issue 3, Pages 233-254, 2014

The Reform of the French Insolvency Law of 12 March 2014 – Strengthening of the Insolvency Prevention and Introduction of a Debt Discharge Procedure without a prior Insolvency Procedure, NZI, Issue 11, Pages 433-439, 2014, (Die Reform des französischen Insolvenzrechts vom 12.3.2014 – Stärkung der Prävention und Einführung eines Schuldenbefreiungsverfahrens ohne vorgeschaltetes Insolvenzverfahren)

The New French 'Accelerated Financial Safeguard Procedure' (Sauvegarde financière accélérée) – Successful Completion of the First Procedure, NZI, Issue 19, Pages 830-836, 2013, (Das neue französische ,beschleunigte finanzielle Sanierungsverfahren' (Sauvegarde financière accélérée) - Erfolgreicher Abschluss des ersten Verfahrens)

De Facto Management and Requalification of (Bank) Loans in Equity, WM, Pages 583-591, 2005, (Faktische Geschäftsführung und kapitalersetzende (Bank-) Darlehen bei der AG) (with Michael Damnitz)