Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy in the United States

Contents:

Bankruptcy Definition

The state or condition of a bankrupt. A state of insolvency (in U.S. law) in which the property of a debtor is taken over by a receiver or trustee in bankruptcy for the benefit of the creditors. See other definition of Bankruptcy in the Legal Dictionary here. Browse and search more U.S. and international free legal definitions and legal terms related to Bankruptcy.

Proceedings

A process for freeing persons from some liability for debts. Bankruptcy proceedings are governed by federal law, specifically the Bankruptcy Act and amendments to it. Commencement of the bankruptcy process may come at the initiative of the debtor or a group of creditors. Such proceedings are conducted by bankruptcy courts, which are an arm of the United States District Courts (see). Bankruptcy referees have historically been selected by district court judges. In 1984, Congress enacted new legislation that leaves bankruptcy matters with the district court but provides that bankruptcy judges be appointed to 14-year terms by the court of appeals for the circuit in which the district is located. Some cases under the Bankruptcy Act are handled as “straight” bankruptcy, where a trustee liquidates certain specified assets of the debtor and distributes the proceeds among the creditors. The act also has what are called “rehabilitative” provisions (Chapters 11 and 13), which allow a debtor to reorganize instead of liquidate in hopes of paying off accumulated debts with future earnings under reorganization. The act protects the debtor during the course of such an attempt. (1)

Analysis and Relevance

Bankruptcy proceedings allow persons or businesses to free themselves from accumulated indebtedness they could never pay off. Such protection has existed in some form since early in American history when a number of states enacted insolvency laws. While states may still legislate in the area, federal law supercedes state law at any point of conflict. Bankruptcy matters under the several federal Bankruptcy Acts (1898, 1933, 1978, and 1984) historically were handled by the U.S. district courts as part of their equity jurisdiction. As the volume of cases grew, district judges delegated these cases to referees.

In 1978, Congress sought through the Bankruptcy Reform Act to create an independent bankruptcy court using the Article I power to create legislative courts. This act was struck down by the Supreme Court in Northern Pipeline Construction Company v. Marathon Pipe Line Company (458 U.S. 50: 1982). The Court ruled in this case that the task assigned to bankruptcy judges by the act could only be performed by judges possessing the independence associated with constitutional or Article Ill-derived courts. A revised version of the law was eventually passed in 1984, which created bankruptcy courts as sub-units of the district courts. Under the law, bankruptcy judges are now selected by the court of appeals and generally have exclusive control over bankruptcy cases. In certain situations, bankruptcy judges submit their findings to district judges who, in turn, enter final judgments. Nonetheless, the role of the bankruptcy judge has broadened, and the change represents dispersing some powers of the district courts to other units. (2)

Bankruptcy Traditionally

Voluntary Bankruptcy

Voluntary bankruptcy is brought about by the filing of a petition in bankruptcy by the debtor. The form of the petition is prescribed by the act. By filing a voluntary petition, debtors seek, first, to have their assets equally distributed among all creditors, and, second, to free themselves of debt. They are thus able to begin business life anew, unencumbered. Voluntary bankruptcy is open to all individuals, firms, and corporations, except banking, building and loan, insurance, railroad, and municipal corporations. No special amount of indebtedness is required; a person owing one dollar or several millions may file a petition in voluntary bankruptcy.

Involuntary Bankruptcy

Involuntary bankruptcy is brought about by the filing of a petition by the creditors against an insolvent debtor. If there are fewer than 12 creditors, 1 creditor may file the petition; if there are more than 12, 3 creditors must join in the filing. Before creditors can throw a debtor into bankruptcy, the following conditions must exist: 1. The debtor must owe the creditors filing the petition at least $5,000 more than the value of the liens the creditors hold on the debtor’s property. 2. The debtor must have committed an act of bankruptcy within four months preceding the filing of the petition. Involuntary bankruptcy proceedings cannot be brought against a wage earner, a farmer, or a banking, building and loan, insurance, railroad, or municipal corporation.

Steps in bankruptcy proceedings

After a petition is filed in the federal courts, in a form prescribed by the United States Supreme Court, the basic steps are: (1) application for receiver, (2) adjudication of the bankrupt, (3) referral to referee in bankruptcy, (4) filing of schedules by the bankrupt, (5) meetings of creditors, (6) election of trustee in bankruptcy, (7) proof and allowance of claims, and (8) discharge of the bankrupt.

Referee in bankruptcy

When the court signs a decree of adjudication it refers the case to a “referee” in bankruptcy. The referee, who is a lawyer, acts in place of the bankruptcy court, conducts all the usual proceedings, and grants the final discharge of the bankrupt from further liability for his or her debts. The referee presides over all creditors’ meetings.

Filing of schedules by the bankrupt

Within five days after the debtor has been adjudged bankrupt he must file, in involuntary cases, a schedule of assets and liabilities on a form prescribed by the United States Supreme Court. If a voluntary petition is filed, the debtor must accompany the petition with similar schedules.

Legal Materials

Topics are grouped by material type.

Case Law: To find cases interpreting bankruptcy law, look under the relevant section of the Bankruptcy Code in the USCA, USCS or CCH’s Bankruptcy Law Reporter. Or look under the relevant subject in West’s Bankruptcy Digest. Of course you can also do standard searches in bankruptcy case databases on Lexis, Westlaw, etc.

See also “Bankruptcy Appellate Panels” and “United States Bankruptcy Courts” in this Encyclopedia.

Docket sheets: See the “Filings” section of this entry, following, or the separate entry for “Docket Sheets.”

Filings: To see if a company has very recently filed for bankruptcy in the U.S.: search the PACER Case Locator and/or the PACER site for the relevant bankruptcy court. Note: There can be up to week delay before a new case make it into the PACER system. Other low- or no-cost options: Search newswires and other news sources (discussed below); visit the company Web site; call the company and/or call the relevant court. If you are looking further back, you can check the Troubled Company Reporter News Archive (going back to 1994) for U.S. companies with at least $10 million in assets, or search the Reporter on Lexis (BKRTCY;TCRPTR) if you don’t know the date of the filing.

To do a more general background check on whether a company has filed for bankruptcy, check the PACER Case Locator or search PACER data using one of the commercial services discussed in the “Docket Sheets” entry of this Guide. Or try the free search on BankruptcyData.com for major company bankruptcies since 1986.

You can also search the relevant database on Lexis, Westlaw (BKR-ALL), Accurint,TLO and/or KnowX.com. Also, bankruptcy information is included in a D&B Business Information Report (see information about them in this legal Encyclopedia).

Important: Bankruptcy information is subject to legal time restrictions, so be sure to find out how far back your search can take you.

Services that run regular bankruptcy filing alerts include Courthouse New Service, the Troubled Company Reporter, Lexis and Westlaw.

Financing Agreements: When a bankrupt company needs to borrow money, lenders are likely to want a court-approved Debtor-in-Possession Financing Agreement (“DIP Financing”) under 11 USC 364 and Bankruptcy Rule 4001(c). These agreements give the lender top priority if the company falters.

You can get DIP Financing Agreements for a particular company from the online case file (on PACER or one of the other systems discussed in the Docket Sheets entry. The agreement should be an attachment to the Motion for Approval. If you just want a sample, a few of these are filed as Exhibits to SEC Filings, so you can search for them on LIVEDGAR or another SEC filing database (see the the SEC Filing entry in this legal Encyclopedia).

Forms: The U.S. Courts post the Official Bankruptcy Forms. The Official Forms are published in the Appendix to Title 11 of the U.S. Code. They are also available in CCH’s Bankruptcy Law Reporter.

Laws: U.S. bankruptcy laws are codified in Title 11 of the United States Code and, hence, are available in the USCA, USCS and wherever else the USC is available (see “United States Code“). The current and former Bankruptcy Act, plus related laws are published in CCH’s Bankruptcy Law Reporter. The American Bankruptcy Institute posts “Legislative News.”

For foreign sources, see the “Foreign Laws” entry and the entries for individual countries. Note: The Practical Law Company provides summaries of the Restructuring and Insolvency laws of many foreign countries.

News: Bankruptcy news is available from in The Daily Bankruptcy News, the The Daily Bankruptcy News and BNA’s Bankruptcy Law Reporter. The Troubled Company Reporter covers large company bankruptcies.

For research, the Dow Jones Corporate Filings Alert (formerly Federal Filings) is available on Lexis (FACTVA;DJCORP) and Westlaw (FEDFILE). The Troubled Company Reporter is available on Lexis (BKRTCY;TCRPTR). Also, top news is posted free by BankruptcyData.com. Other resources: Search the general news databases.

Rankings: The April issue of The American Lawyer includes a list of the biggest deals of the preceding year, including the 10 largest bankruptcies in the U.S. Bankruptcydata.com posts a list of the largest U.S. bankruptcies since 1995, as well as a list for each year. The Practical Law Company compiles a list of the “best” bankruptcy firms called the “Restructuring and Insolvency Super League.”

Reports: The ABI Resource Center posts bankruptcy-related reports by government agencies. The Administrative Office of the United States Courts publishes the number of cases filed with the bankruptcy courts (and other bankruptcy court information) in its Statistical Reports. NR&C designs custom reports using data from Chapter 11 bankruptcies.

Rules: See “Federal Court Rules” and/or “Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure.”

Statistics: The Administrative office of the U.S. Courts posts statistics on U.S. bankruptcy filings. You can create your own reports on large public company bankruptcies using the Web BRD.

Troubled Companies: There is no precise way to know if a company is about to go into bankruptcy, but you can (a) for large companies (assets of US$10+ million) check theTroubled Company Reporter, which is available on Lexis (BKRTCY;TCRPTR); (b) run the company’s name through a current business news database, (c) get a Dun & Bradstreet report on the company (see “Dun & Bradstreet Reports”), (d) check for outstanding liens, judgments and notices of default on Accurint, TLO, Lexis or Knowx.com or another public records database, (e) for public companies, look at the latest 10-Q filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (see “Securities and Exchange Commission”); or (f) look for the company’s name on Downside’s Deathwatch or another site that reports rumors of trouble.

Treatises, etc.: The leading bankruptcy treatise is Collier on Bankruptcy(Lexis/Matthew Bender), which has a companion, the Collier Bankruptcy Practice Guide. Collier on Bankruptcy is available on Lexis (BKRTCY;COLBKR), as is thePractice Guide (BKRTCY;COBAPG). Also useful: Norton Bankruptcy Law and Practice(West). The Practical Law Company provides detailed summaries of major bankruptcy topics and explains how to handle selected key aspects of bankruptcy practice (subscription only).

Bankruptcy in Foreign Legal Encyclopedias

For starting research in the law of a foreign country:

Link Description
Bankruptcy Bankruptcy in the World Legal Encyclopedia.
Bankruptcy Bankruptcy in the European Legal Encyclopedia.
Bankruptcy Bankruptcy in the Asian Legal Encyclopedia.
Bankruptcy Bankruptcy in the UK Legal Encyclopedia.
Bankruptcy Bankruptcy in the Australian Legal Encyclopedia.

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Bankruptcy in Constitutional Law

A list of entries related to Bankruptcy may be found, under the Bankruptcy category, in the United States constitutional law platform of this legal Encyclopedia.Bankruptcy provides debt relief to individuals and businesses that have too much debt for them to handle.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy (in General)

(In United States law, in the context of Bankruptcy) Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a liquidation bankruptcy in which most of the debtor’s debt is wiped out, giving the debtor a fresh start.

Exempted Property

Note: Find out more information about this topic in this American legal Encyclopedia. The bankruptcy trustee can only liquidate assets that are not exempt under state or federal law.

Eligibility for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Filing

Note: Find out more information about this topic in this American legal Encyclopedia. Not everyone is eligible to file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, including those who have received a discharge in bankruptcy within the last six to eight years, depending on the chapter under which they filed.

Determining whether the debtor’s income is below the median income

Note: Find out more information about this topic in this American legal Encyclopedia. The first determination is determining whether the debtor’s income is less than the median income of a family of the same size in the same state as the debtor.

Means Test

Note: Find out more information about this topic in this American legal Encyclopedia. The means test helps to ensure that only individuals who cannot afford to pay off their debts are able to use Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy Trustee

Note: Find out more information about this topic in this American legal Encyclopedia. The court appoints a bankruptcy trustee who is responsible for ensuring that the creditors receive as much as possible of the unpaid debt that is owed to them.

Automatic Stay

Note: Find out more information about this topic in this American legal Encyclopedia. One of the most coveted aspects for debtors filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the automatic stay. Once the bankruptcy is filed, the court issues an automatic stay that prevents creditors from trying to collect on the debt.

Creditors’ Meeting

Note: Find out more information about this topic in this American legal Encyclopedia. Part of the bankruptcy process includes a creditors’ meeting in which all of the creditors listed in the bankruptcy papers have an opportunity to attend.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy (in General)

(In United States law, in the context of Bankruptcy) The second most common type of bankruptcy filing is for Chapter 13. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is often filed by debtors who do not qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy due to being over the median income or not passing the means test.

Eligibility for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Note: Find out more information about this topic in this American legal Encyclopedia. Not all debtors qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Debtors must be able to show that they have sufficient income to meet their payment obligations under the bankruptcy repayment plan.

Repayment Plans

Note: Find out more information about this topic in this American legal Encyclopedia. The debtor’s repayment plan details the manner in which the debtor will repay debts, including how much repayments will be and the duration of the repayment plan.

Credit Counseling

Note: Find out more information about this topic in this American legal Encyclopedia. Debtors are required to attend sanctioned credit counseling. This agency must be approved by the United States Trustee’s Office.

Chapter 11 Bankruptcy (in General)

(In United States law, in the context of Bankruptcy) Chapter 11 bankruptcy is primarily for reorganizing businesses that have large debt burdens. The goal of filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy is to return the business to a profitable one.

Legal Assistance (in General)

(In United States law, in the context of Bankruptcy) Filing for bankruptcy can be a complex matter with long-lasting consequences. Individuals and businesses that are contemplating this decision may wish to discuss their options with a bankruptcy lawyer.

Bankruptcy: Summary

In this entry, Bankruptcy covers:

  • Cultural Philosophy
  • Bankruptcy Petitions
  • The Bankruptcy Trustee
  • Chapter 11 Bankruptcies
  • Recent Trends in Bankruptcy Law

Bankruptcy: Main Elements

The coverage of Bankruptcy includes the following main elements:

Cultural Philosophy

Find out an overview of this topic, in relation to Bankruptcy, in the legal Ecyclopedia.

Bankruptcy Petitions

There is information on this basic subject in the legal Ecyclopedia.

The Bankruptcy Trustee

Find out an overview of this issue following this link (topic).

Chapter 11 Bankruptcies

There is information on this basic subject matter in this legal reference.

Recent Trends in Bankruptcy Law

Find out an overview of this topic in the legal Ecyclopedia.

References

See Also

  • Business Law
  • Bankruptcy

Main Elements

Bankruptcy Defined

Bankruptcy allows individuals, couples, and businesses that cannot meet their financial obligations to be excused from repaying some or all of their debt. Bankruptcy has been in existence since ancient times.

Keep their Property

The fact that a liquidation bankruptcy wipes out debt completely is obviously attractive to anyone who cannot afford to pay their bills. But what about people who have non-exempt property that they do not want to give up? Chapter 13 is a reorganization bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy Act of Actions (Adversary Proceedings)

This section introduces, discusses and describes the basics of bankruptcy act of actions. Then, cross references and a brief overview about Adversary Proceedings is provided. Finally, the subject of Proceedings in relation with bankruptcy act of actions is examined. Note that a list of cross references, bibliography and other resources appears at the end of this entry.

Bankruptcy Act of Actions (Adversary Proceedings)

This section introduces, discusses and describes the basics of bankruptcy act of actions. Then, cross references and a brief overview about Adversary Proceedings is provided. Finally, the subject of Practice in relation with bankruptcy act of actions is examined. Note that a list of cross references, bibliography and other resources appears at the end of this entry.

Bankruptcy (Admiralty Law)

This section introduces, discusses and describes the basics of bankruptcy. Then, cross references and a brief overview about Admiralty Lawin relation to bankruptcy is provided. Note that a list of bibliography resources and other aids appears at the end of this entry.

Finding the law: Bankruptcy in the U.S. Code

A collection of general and permanent laws relating to bankruptcy, passed by the United States Congress, are organized by subject matter arrangements in the United States Code (U.S.C.; this label examines bankruptcy topics), to make them easy to use (usually, organized by legal areas into Titles, Chapters and Sections). The platform provides introductory material to the U.S. Code, and cross references to case law. View the U.S. Code’s table of contents here.

Bankruptcy

In Legislation

Bankruptcy in the U.S. Code: Title 11

The current, permanent, in-force federal laws regulating bankruptcy are compiled in the United States Code under Title 11. It constitutes “prima facie” evidence of statutes relating to Bankruptcy (including bankruptcy) of the United States. The reader can further narrow his/her legal research of the general topic (in this case, Bankruptcy Reorganization and Adjustment of Debts and Bankruptcy Cross-Border Cases of the US Code, including bankruptcy) by chapter and subchapter.

Bankruptcy

In Legislation

Bankruptcy in the U.S. Code: Title 18, Part I, Chapter 9

The current, permanent, in-force federal laws regulating bankruptcy are compiled in the United States Code under Title 18, Part I, Chapter 9. It constitutes “prima facie” evidence of statutes relating to Crimes and Criminal Law (including bankruptcy) of the United States. The readers can further narrow their legal research on the topic by chapter and subchapter.

Resources

Notes and References

  1. Definition of Bankruptcy from the American Law Dictionary, 1991, California

See Also

Further Reading (Books)

Alsop, J. D. “Ethics in the Marketplace: Gerrard Winstanley’s London Bankruptcy, 1643.” Journal of British Studies 28 (1989): 97_119.

Duffy, Ian P. H. “English Bankrupts, 1571_1861.” American Journal of Legal History 24 (1980): 283_305.

 

Jones, W. J. “The Foundations of English Bankruptcy: Statutes and Commissions in the Early Modern Period.” Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 69, no. 3 (1979): 1_63.

Lovett, A. W. “The Castilian Bankruptcy of 1575.” Historical Journal 23 (1980): 899_911.

Muldrew, Craig. “Credit and the Courts: Debt Litigation in a Seventeenth-Century Urban Community.” Economic History Review 46 (1993): 23_38.

Further Reading (Articles)

Mueller, Reinhold C. The Venetian Money Market: Banks, Panics, and the Public Debt, 1200_1500. Baltimore, 1997.

Neal, Larry. The Rise of Financial Capitalism: International Capital Markets in the Age of Reason. Cambridge, U.K., 1990.

Safley, Thomas Max. “Bankruptcy: Family and Finance in Early Modern Augsburg.” The Journal of European Economic History 29 (2000): 53_73.

Tracy, James D. A Financial Revolution in the Habsburg Netherlands: Renten and Renteniers in the County of Holland, 1515_1565. Berkeley, 1985.

Van der Wee, Hermann. “Money, Credit, and Banking Systems.” In The Cambridge Economic History of Europe, vol. 5, edited by E. E. Rich and C. H. Wilson, pp. 290_392. Cambridge, U.K., 1977.

 

More Related Articles

Borges, W., and Nathan, B. C. (2005, April 15). Bankruptcy abuse and consumer protection act of 2005: Significant business bankruptcy changes in store for trade creditors. Retrieved September 7, 2005, from http://www.nacm.org/resource/Bankruptcy-Actapr15-05.html

Davis Polk & Wardwell. (2005, June 2). Bankruptcy code and selected other provisions of the United States code. Retrieved November 28, 2005, from http://www.dpw.com/practice/code.blackline.pdf

Houlden, L., and Morawetz, G. (2004). The 2005 annotated bankruptcy and insolvency act. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Carswell.

Jeweler, Robin (2005, March 14). The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 in the 109th Congress. Congressional Research Service. Retrieved November 28, 2005, from http://www.bna.com/webwatch/bankruptcycrs4.pdf

Resnick, A., and Sommer, H. (2005). The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005: With analysis. New York: LexisNexis/Matthew Bender.

Reynolds, J. (2005, August). Debtor relief or grief? The bankruptcy act of 2005. Retrieved September 8, 2005, from http://www.dcbar.org/for_lawyers/washington_lawyer/august_2005/bankruptcy.cfm

Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. “Number of Bankruptcy Cases Filed in Federal Courts.” Press Release, 24 August 2005.

Baldiga, Nancy R. “Practice Opportunities in Chapter 11.” CPA Journal. May 1998.

“Checklist of Key Changes.” FindLaw. Available from http://bankruptcy.findlaw.com/bankruptcy/bankruptcy-basics/key-changes.html. January 2006.

Pearce II, John A., and Samuel A. DiLullo. “When a Strategic Plan Includes Bankruptcy.” Business Horizons. September/October 1998.

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. “Corporate Bankruptcy.” Available from http://www.sec.gov/investor/pubs/bankrupt.htm. 8 December 2005.

Hillstrom, Northern Lights

updated by Magee, ECDI

Bankruptcy Business Booms;Law Firms Build Staffs to Match Demand, The Washington Post; October 4, 1990; Sharon Walsh

Bankruptcy ballooning // Record numbers file to escape financial crisis or just poor planning, Chicago Sun-Times; May 13, 1990; Don Hayner

Bankruptcies rise to 10-year high // It’s a new chapter in sad story here: more cases in suburbs, Chicago Sun-Times; January 13, 1991; Rosalind Rossi

BANKRUPTCIES IN WNY CONTINUE TO SKYROCKET, The Buffalo News (Buffalo, NY); March 11, 1998; DAN HERBECK – News Staff Reporter

Bankruptcies soar in outer suburbs Rate levels off in city, but high-growth areas see worsening trouble, Chicago Sun-Times; July 11, 2004; Natasha Korecki

Bankruptcy boom a boon to lawyers, Chicago Sun-Times; January 26, 1992; Susan Chandler

Bankruptcies keep rising; Dubuque County filings jump 150% in a decade; attorney says economy, consumers and creditors share blame, Telegraph – Herald (Dubuque); January 12, 2004; M.D. KITTLE

Bankruptcies soar; Tougher law drives increase, but officials say prevalence and problems probably won’t change, Telegraph – Herald (Dubuque); February 18, 2006; M.D. KITTLE

Bankruptcy reform, America’s Community Banker; March 1, 1998; McEnaney, Maura

Bankruptcies up sharply in Clark County, The Columbian (Vancouver, WA); December 7, 2007; PAUL CRAIG

Bankruptcies hit record in W.Va., Economic downturn, credit binge blamed for jump in filings, Charleston Daily Mail; August 20, 2003; TOBY COLEMAN

Bankruptcies surge amid recession, Deseret News (Salt Lake City); April 14, 2009; Mike Baker Associated Press

Federal Bankruptcy Law and State Sovereign Immunity, Texas Law Review; May 1, 2003; Feibelman, Adam

Bankruptcies Surged Across Region in ’95; D.C., Md. and Va. Topped National Average, BANKRUPTCIES SET RECORD IN WNY, The Buffalo News (Buffalo, NY); April 16, 1996; DAN HERBECK – News Staff ReporterThe Washington Post; January 16, 1996; Paul W. Valentine

Bankruptcy Proceedings Under Polish Bankruptcy Law: A Domestic And European Perspective.(Reprint), Mondaq Business Briefing; March 15, 2010; Knowski, Maciej

Bankruptcy: A Stakeholder Analysis, Advances in Competitiveness Research; January 1, 2012; Fitzpatrick, William M. DiLullo, Samuel A.

Bankruptcies drop, yet it’s a mixed sign ; Experts say banks are working with businesses to keep them afloat, and that too many already have gone under. Portland Press Herald (Portland, ME); August 21, 2011; JASON SINGER Staff Writer

Bankruptcy, Everyday Finance: Economics, Personal Money Management, and Entrepreneurship; January 1, 2008

BANKRUPTCIES STILL HIGH IN AREA COURT FIGURES DON’T REFLECT ECONOMIC IMPROVEMENT, Post-Tribune (IN); December 14, 1987

Further Reading

Bankruptcy and Tax Law

There are more details about Bankruptcy in thetax compilation of the legal Encyclopedia.

Bankruptcy Definition in the context of the Federal Court System

A legal process—over which the federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction—by which persons or businesses unable to pay their debts can seek the assistance of the court in liquidating and reorganizing their assets and liabilities. Under the protection of the bankruptcy court, debtors may discharge their debts. Bankruptcy judges preside over these proceedings.

Bankruptcy: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Bankruptcy. This part provides references, in relation to Bankruptcy, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Bankruptcy by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Bankruptcy and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Bankruptcy or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Bankruptcy and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Bankruptcy. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Bankruptcy should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Bankruptcy when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

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