Article | Harvard Business Law Review | Spring 2015

Sovereign Debt Restructuring: Evaluating the Impact of the Argentina Ruling

by Laura Alfaro


Recent rulings in the ongoing litigation over the pari passu clause in Argentinian sovereign debt instruments have generated considerable controversy. Some official-sector participants and academic articles have suggested that the rulings will disrupt or impede future sovereign debt restructurings by encouraging holdout creditors to litigate for full payment instead of participating in negotiated exchange offers. This paper critically examines this claim and argues that the incentives for holdout litigation are limited because of (1) significant constraints on creditor litigation, (2) substantial economic and reputational costs associated with such litigation, and (3) the availability of contractual provisions and negotiating strategies that mitigate the debtor's collective action problems. It also argues that the fact-specific equitable remedy in the Argentina case was narrowly tailored to Argentina's unprecedented disregard for court opinions and for international norms of negotiating sovereign debt restructurings and is therefore unlikely to be used in future debt restructurings.


Alfaro, Laura. "Sovereign Debt Restructuring: Evaluating the Impact of the Argentina Ruling." Harvard Business Law Review 5, no. 1 (Spring 2015): 47–71.