TORONTO - Former media baron Conrad Black's lawyer is asking a judge to speed up the creditor protection proceedings for his now defunct newspaper company Hollinger Inc.
The process has been in limbo for nearly five years, and once rolling, could allow Black and other creditors to push the company towards reaching settlements for any outstanding lawsuits, including any that involve Black.
An affidavit filed by Stanley Freedman, a lawyer for Black, highlights the proceedings that have been in limbo.
Freedman noted that the CCAA filing included the intention of a plan to be voted on by creditors, with extensions obtained under the same reasons.
"There has not been a plan, or a meeting, or a vote of creditors," he said in the nearly 250-page document, which was filed in late April.
Freedman encouraged the court to determine a timeline for a restructuring plan and a creditor vote.
Conrad Black has become very familiar with legal wranglings in the U.S. and Canada over the past few decades.
He was released from a Florida jail earlier this month after serving time for convictions related to his business dealings at the helm of Hollinger.
The four-month trial focused on the complaints of shareholders, who said they had been swindled out of $6.1 million.
He was originally sentenced to serve 78 months in jail after he was convicted of three counts of fraud and one count of obstruction of justice by a Chicago jury.
Black served a stint of 2 1/2 years before being released on bail in 2010, though he was ordered back to prison last September for a reduced sentence of 42 months following an appeal. Considering the 29 months he had already served, and credit for good behaviour, he remained behind bars for eight months.
Canadian authorities have granted Black a one-year temporary resident permit, allowing him to return to Canada despite the fact that he would not normally be criminally admissible for long-term residency in the country.
Black won a minor legal victory on the civil side last month, when the Supreme Court of Canada paved the way for the fallen media baron to pursue a series of libel lawsuits in the province of Ontario against the former business associates who were major players in his spectacular fall from grace.
But Black and his legal opponents — former associates at Hollinger International and their adviser, Richard Breeden, the former head of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission — are in the process of finalizing an out-of-court settlement of the suits.
Black is also suing David Radler, his former business partner, a man who was also the chief prosecution witness to testified against him at his 2007 fraud trial.
The alleges David Radler hurt the value of Black's stake in Horizon Publications Inc., a U.S.-based chain of small newspapers.
In 2004, Hollinger International launched a US$200-million lawsuit against Hollinger Inc., the Toronto holding company through which Black controlled the U.S.-based operating enterprise.