3 posts from November 2023

What's 43 Years Among Friends?

posted by Adam Levitin

One of my recent blog posts took issue with the historical claims in a Supreme Court amicus brief filed by several eminent law professors in the Purdue Pharma appeal. One of the professors, Tony Casey at University of Chicago Law School, fired back with a comment, and I responded at length in the comments section, but I think the exchange is worth elevating to a stand-alone blog post. 

To recap, the good amici jumped all over my claim that the Framers could not have conceived of nonconsensual nondebtor releases as being within the scope of the Bankruptcy Power. To this end, they cited a couple of English cases from 1618-1620. My original post pointed out that these were not contemporaneously reported decisions; they remained unknown until 1932 when a modern scholar "reported" the cases from his own reassembly of various Chancery documents. Moreover, the decisions were not even bankruptcy decisions, but compositions, not operating under any bankruptcy statute. 

Professor Casey responded:  

I really don't understand the argument here. First, how can you say releases were "incomprehensible" to the framers given that Lord Bacon was granting them? Even if the opinion is unreported, I just can't see the leap to arguing that no one designing a judicial system could have thought of or comprehended this thing that the Lord Chancellor had done multiple times. Second, the point about these not being "bankruptcy" cases is semantic. These were part of compositions that look just like Chapter 11 cases today. Third, even if you are right about everything else, our main point was about your 1986 claim. You write this [in your blog post], "because there was no reported decision of these cases until 1932, they do not undercut the fact that Anglo-American bankruptcy law had no notion of nonconsenusal nondebtor releases in until 1986." How do you get from 1932 to 1986? Finally, we point out other historical pedigree including cases from the 1940s.

Okay. Let's try this again.

 

Continue reading "What's 43 Years Among Friends? " »

Something Doesn't Add Up in NY Times Article

posted by Adam Levitin

The NYTimes has an article about how many consumers and small businesses have been getting their deposit accounts shut down and lines of credit cut off without explanation.

Something here doesn't add up. Banks have an obligation under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and Regulation B thereunder to provide customers with "adverse action" notices if they terminate a line of credit. Those notices either have to provide an explanation of why or a notice of how the customer can get an explanation (for small businesses, that notice can be in the application itself). ECOA/Reg B apply not just to consumer credit, but business credit as well. Now, ECOA/Reg B does not cover deposit accounts, but if a bank cuts off both a deposit account and a line of credit, it would have to provide an adverse action notice about the line of credit.

So something here doesn't add up. Either banks have been failing to comply with ECOA or customers have checked their mail or haven't been forthright with the journalists. Large scale non-compliance with this sort of ECOA provision seems unlikely, as this is an easy-to-automate rule, where the cost-savings from noncompliance would be minimal. So, I suspect that something funny is going on on the consumer end, although, to be fair, an ECOA adverse action notice doesn't have to be particularly illuminating about why the bank took the adverse action.

Let's End Bankruptcy Judge Shopping

posted by Bob Lawless

Credit Slips bloggers Adam Levitin, Stephen Lubben, and I joined eight other academics in putting our names to a letter calling for the Southern District of Texas to end its practice of having a "complex chapter 11" panel composed of two bankruptcy judges. This procedure ensures that large corporate debtors filing chapter 11 know their cases will be heard by one of these two judges rather than being randomly assigned among the judges on the court. Congress has authorized up to six bankruptcy judges for the Southern District of Texas. Although I do not speak for Levitin and Lubben, I wanted to elaborate on my reasons for signing the letter.

Corporate bankruptcy venue abuse remains overdue for reform as explained by Credit Slips bloggers just a few times both on and off the blog. For some examples, see here, here, here, here, here, and here. The problem with the complex chapter 11 panel is even worse because it creates the appearance of being able to pick your own judge. Whatever benefits there are from having a specialized panel for large cases, and I am sure there are some, they are not worth the corrosive effect on public confidence in an impartial system of justice. Because the bankruptcy court created the complex chapter 11 panel as a local administrative procedure, the same court could end it with a stroke of a pen.

Continue reading "Let's End Bankruptcy Judge Shopping" »

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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 ([email protected]) 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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