2 posts from December 2023

Cross-Border Insolvency Forum Shopping Naivete

posted by John Pottow

by Ted Janger and John Pottow

Recently, two U.S. law professors and a third from Singapore offered unsolicited advice to the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (“UNCITRAL”) regarding that organization’s ongoing efforts to harmonize and modernize the law of cross-border insolvencies.  They wrote an open letter (the “Letter”) to the Secretariat—joined by a number of other academic signatories—that calls upon UNCITRAL to abandon one of the core principles of its Model Law on Cross Border Insolvency (the “MLCBI,” adopted as chapter 15 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code): that, other things being equal, a cross-border bankruptcy case should be based where the debtor is located. 

This principle is implemented by according special deference and comity to the insolvency case located at the debtor’s center of main interest (the “COMI”).  The debtor’s COMI is the jurisdiction where it carries out its activities and, hence, is the jurisdiction that is known and readily apparent to third parties.  It therefore is predictable.  The COMI principle thus has a lot to recommend it.  In most cases it will enhance the legitimacy of bankruptcy outcomes by simultaneously furthering administrative convenience, increasing transparency, vindicating creditor expectations, and respecting national sovereignty.  Like most rules of private international law, it is rooted in common sense.

Notwithstanding COMI’s many virtues, the Letter’s authors recommend jettisoning COMI in favor of a regime of unfettered forum choice and jurisdictional competition; the main proceeding entitled to deference in a multinational insolvency should be freely selected by the debtor.

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Check Fraud: It's Time to Jettison Price v. Neal

posted by Adam Levitin

Check fraud has been on the rise, even as check usage continues to decline. There's lots of different types of check fraud, however. Sometimes it's as simple as a thief stealing a blank check, filing it in, and forging the drawer's signature. Sometimes a legitimate check is intercepted in the mail, and the payee's name (and maybe amount) get washed off and replaced by that of the fraudster or a friendly party. Sometimes a legitimate check is copied—while in transmission or even after receipt and possibly even after deposit—but with the payee then changed prior to deposit. And once a check has been copied once, it can be copied multiple times, and each copy can be deposited (and possibly deposited multiple times with remote deposit capture). It can be hard to figure out how the fraud happened, however, as the payor bank often doesn't receive a paper (or at least the original paper) check. Instead, the payor bank might simply be presented with an image of the check or perhaps a paper reconversion of an image of the deposited check. And with remote deposit capture, the depositary bank might itself not have a paper check. 

The problem this variety of fraud creates is that it makes it hard to know which legal rule should apply, and the uncertainty of legal rules might reduce banks' incentive to take care to protect against fraud.

Continue reading "Check Fraud: It's Time to Jettison Price v. Neal" »


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