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74 Law Professors Sign Letter in Support of the Consumer Bankruptcy Reform Act

posted by Pamela Foohey

Last week, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) introduced the Consumer Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2020 (CBRA). As Slipster Adam Levitin detailed, the CBRA proposes a single chapter structure designed to streamline the consumer bankruptcy process. This morning, 74 bankruptcy and consumer law professors sent to Senator Warren a letter in support of the CBRA.

As the letter states, the signatories support the CBRA because it "provides a thoughtful, workable, and comprehensive response to the problems that plague the current consumer bankruptcy system." Before I discuss the letter further, a disclosure: I spearheaded this letter and circulated it among bankruptcy and consumer law scholars for signature.

In detailing our support of the CBRA, the letter points out the key ways in which the current consumer bankruptcy system can fail to provide effective relief and can shut people out because they cannot afford an attorney. Adam's recent post discusses research about substantial regional differences in the use of bankruptcy and the disparate use of chapter 13 by Black households--and the consequences of these differences on bankruptcy's uniformity and on access to justice. The CBRA will simplify the filing process, reduce fees, and address racial and gender disparities. Its new chapter 10 will allow people to address their most pressing concerns, whether that be keeping homes, keeping cars, staying in rental property, or discharging debts. It also provides for a discharge of student loan debt. And it addresses debt collection in bankruptcy cases by expanding the FDCPA and giving the CFPB some supervision and enforcement authority in consumer bankruptcy cases.

Importantly, as noted at the end of the letter, the new single chapter is not a free ride. People who can pay will not be able to walk away from their obligations. Overall, the CBRA will address systemic issues and other problems that plague the current consumer bankruptcy system. Find the full letter from law professors here.

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  • As a public service, the University of Illinois College of Law operates Bankr-L, an e-mail list on which bankruptcy professionals can exchange information. Bankr-L is administered by one of the Credit Slips bloggers, Professor Robert M. Lawless of the University of Illinois. Although Bankr-L is a free service, membership is limited only to persons with a professional connection to the bankruptcy field (e.g., lawyer, accountant, academic, judge). To request a subscription on Bankr-L, click here to visit the page for the list and then click on the link for "Subscribe." After completing the information there, please also send an e-mail to Professor Lawless (rlawless@illinois.edu) with a short description of your professional connection to bankruptcy. A link to a URL with a professional bio or other identifying information would be great.

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