Federal Bankruptcy Laws

By: Eddie Tobey

Federal bankruptcy laws are only for companies and firms that wish to file for bankruptcy, individuals cannot go for these options. Chapter 11 and Chapter 7 are the two main categories of federal bankruptcy laws that businesses can choose from.

Chapter 11 provides the company or firm with an opportunity to rebuild the business in spite of crippling debts. The federal court plays an active part in such cases, as it has to give the approval for all the business decisions made once the case is filed. Chapter 11 is preferred to Chapter 7 because the company will not be closed to liquidate its assets in this instance. Also, unlike in Chapter 7, the company does not become a security asset for lien and can still be run as usual.

Like a trustee in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases, the SEC plays an important role in Chapter 11. The SEC has to determine if the case is fraudulent and if the company or firm really needs to file the case instead of just pretension for the benefit of the shareholders and investors. If the company is involved in trading after it has filed for bankruptcy, then the details relating to such must be registered with the SEC.

The money will be repaid to the creditors as decided by the law. Bondholders and investors with secured collateral are usually paid first. Stockholders will be paid only if the company is able to stand back on its feet and able to make some profits in spite of filing the bankruptcy case. However, they may continue to trade with their existing stock in the local stock market unless the company liquidates these shares. Owners will be paid last after all the debt is returned to all the above-mentioned people involved with the company.

During bankruptcy, the company might not be able to provide the bondholders with principle and the stockholders with dividends, but they might try to make up for this by providing then with new stock that they put on the market for regaining their stand. The stockholders might not even receive this if the company has more liabilities than assets. A re-organization plan is prepared by a committee of creditors and stockholders of that company and of those appointed by the trustee to enable the company to buy more time while trying to get on to its feet. This plan is reviewed by the SEC and then has to be approved by the court before being put into action.

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