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Restructuring Responsibility for Greece’s Sovereign Debt: The Need for a Truth and Reconciliation Audit

Yvonne Wong, an expert in sovereign debt law, is a visiting fellow at the Law School, University of New South Wales – where she was previously a lecturer. She is currently an entrepreneur and consultant based between Yangon, Myanmar and Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

This article considers restructuring efforts in Greece in light of the current legal framework for sovereign debt. It argues that the lack of a formal framework for the resolution of sovereign debt defaults often works to the benefit of a sovereign’s creditors, who are usually in a better position politically and economically to dictate negotiations and demand repayment. The article outlines Greece’s experience of bailouts and restructuring and considers the applicability of the concept of odious debt to Greece. While odious debt discourse may be appropriate to Greece’s situation, the bailouts and restructuring have worked to obscure any possible illegitimacy of Greek sovereign debt. It is unclear which part of the Greek government authorised these debts and what the lenders knew when providing the funds. The article concludes a comprehensive debt audit is needed to uncover the truth about the illegitimacy or otherwise of Greece’s sovereign debt.

(2014) Vol 30 Law in Context p85

   
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