Chapter 15 Database of U.S. Cross-border Cases


Chapter 15 is a new chapter added to the Bankruptcy Code by the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005. It is the U.S. domestic adoption of the Model Law on Cross-Border Insolvency promulgated by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law ("UNCITRAL") in 1997, and it replaces section 304 of the Bankruptcy Code. Because of the UNCITRAL source for chapter 15, the U.S. interpretation must be coordinated with the interpretation given by other countries that have adopted it as internal law to promote a uniform and coordinated legal regime for cross-border insolvency cases.

The purpose of Chapter 15, and the Model Law on which it is based, is to provide effective mechanisms for dealing with insolvency cases involving debtors, assets, claimants, and other parties of interest involving more than one country. This general purpose is realized through five objectives specified in the statute: (1) to promote cooperation between the United States courts and parties of interest and the courts and other competent authorities of foreign countries involved in cross-border insolvency cases; (2) to establish greater legal certainty for trade and investment; (3) to provide for the fair and efficient administration of cross-border insolvencies that protects the interests of all creditors and other interested entities, including the debtor; (4) to afford protection and maximization of the value of the debtor's assets; and (5) to facilitate the rescue of financially troubled businesses, thereby protecting investment and preserving employment. 11 U.S.C. § 1501.

Generally, a chapter 15 case is ancillary to a primary proceeding brought in another country, typically the debtor's home country. As an alternative, the debtor or a creditor may commence a full chapter 7 or chapter 11 case in the United States if the assets in the United States are sufficiently complex to merit a full-blown domestic bankruptcy case. 11 U.S.C. § 1520(c). In addition, under chapter 15 a U.S. court may authorize a trustee or other entity (including an examiner) to act in a foreign country on behalf of a U.S. bankruptcy estate. 11 U.S.C. § 1505.

An ancillary case is commenced under chapter 15 by a "foreign representative" filing a petition for recognition of a "foreign proceeding." (1) 11 U.S.C. § 1504. Chapter 15 gives the foreign representative the right of direct access to U.S. courts for this purpose. 11 U.S.C. § 1509. The petition must be accompanied by documents showing the existence of the foreign proceeding and the appointment and authority of the foreign representative. 11 U.S.C. § 1515. After notice and a hearing, the court is authorized to issue an order recognizing the foreign proceeding as either a "foreign main proceeding" (a proceeding pending in a country where the debtor's center of main interests are located) or a "foreign non-main proceeding" (a proceeding pending in a country where the debtor has an establishment, (2) but not its center of main interests). 11 U.S.C. § 1517. Immediately upon the recognition of a foreign main proceeding, the automatic stay and selected other provisions of the Bankruptcy Code take effect within the United States. 11 U.S.C. § 1520. The foreign representative is also authorized to operate the debtor's business in the ordinary course. Id. The U.S. court is authorized to issue preliminary relief as soon as the petition for recognition is filed. 11 U.S.C. § 1519.

Through the recognition process, chapter 15 operates as the principal door of a foreign representative to the federal and state courts of the United States. 11 U.S.C. § 1509. Once recognized, a foreign representative may seek additional relief from the bankruptcy court or from other state and federal courts and is authorized to bring a full (as opposed to ancillary) bankruptcy case. 11 U.S.C. §§ 1509, 1511. In addition, the representative is authorized to participate as a party of interest in a pending U.S. insolvency case and to intervene in any other U.S. case where the debtor is a party. 11 U.S.C. §§ 1512, 1524.

Chapter 15 also gives foreign creditors the right to participate in U.S. bankruptcy cases and it prohibits discrimination against foreign creditors (except certain foreign government and tax claims, which may be governed by treaty). 11 U.S.C. § 1513. It also requires notice to foreign creditors concerning a U.S. bankruptcy case, including notice of the right to file claims. 11 U.S.C. § 1514.

One of the most important goals of chapter 15 is to promote cooperation and communication between U.S. courts and parties of interest with foreign courts and parties of interest in cross-border cases. This goal is accomplished by, among other things, explicitly charging the court and estate representatives to "cooperate to the maximum extent possible" with foreign courts and foreign representatives and authorizing direct communication between the court and authorized estate representatives and the foreign courts and foreign representatives. 11 U.S.C. §§ 1525 - 1527.

If a full bankruptcy case is initiated by a foreign representative (when there is a foreign main proceeding pending in another country), bankruptcy court jurisdiction is generally limited to the debtor's assets that are located in the United States. 11 U.S.C. § 1528. The limitation promotes cooperation with the foreign main proceeding by limiting the assets subject to U.S. jurisdiction, so as not to interfere with the foreign main proceeding. Chapter 15 also provides rules to further cooperation where a case was filed under the Bankruptcy Code prior to recognition of the foreign representative and for coordination of more than on foreign proceeding. 11 U.S.C. §§ 1529 - 1530.

The UNCITRAL Model Law has also been adopted (with certain variations) in Canada, Mexico, Japan and several other countries. Adoption is pending in the United Kingdom and Australia, as well as other countries with significant international economic interests.

NOTES

  1. A "foreign proceeding" is a "judicial or administrative proceeding in a foreign country ... under a law relating to insolvency or adjustment of debt in which proceeding the [debtor's assets and affairs] are subject to control or supervision by a foreign court for the purpose of reorganization or liquidation." 11 U.S.C. § 101(23). A "foreign representative" is the person or entity authorized in the foreign proceeding "to administer the reorganization or liquidation of the debtor's assets or affairs or to act as a representative of such foreign proceeding."
  2. An establishment is a place of operations where the debtor carries out a long term economic activity. 11 U.S.C. § 1502(2).

Thu., December 6, 2012

Thu., December 6, 2012

A U.S. judge ordered that 10 units of Mexican glassmaker Vitro SAB de CV be put into U.S. bankruptcy and he found that several of them had taken secret steps to prevent creditors from collecting money owed to them, Reuters reported. Several U.S. hedge funds led by Aurelius Capital Management and Elliott International hold defaulted notes issued by the subsidiaries and sought to put the units into bankruptcy. After the hedge funds sought involuntary bankruptcy proceedings, five of the subsidiaries secretly reincorporated in the Bahamas and one of the subsidiaries was sold, according to Harlin Hale, a U.S. bankruptcy judge in Dallas. "These acts were taken, apparently, to prevent creditors...

Thu., November 29, 2012

Thu., November 29, 2012

Vitro SAB, the Mexican glassmaker that has been fighting hedge fund Elliott Management Corp. and other creditors over its restructuring, lost an appeals court bid to enforce its bankruptcy plan in the U.S., Bloomberg reported. The U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled against Vitro today and upheld a bankruptcy court ruling that denied enforcement of the reorganization, a result that Vitro had warned would create “chaos” for the company. “Vitro cannot propose a plan that fails to substantially comply with our order of distribution and then defend such a plan by arguing that it would suffer were it not enforced,” the court said. “Vitro’s two-wrongs-make-a-right reasoning is...

Fri., November 16, 2012

Fri., November 16, 2012

Centrais Eletricas do Para SA, a Brazilian utility know as Celpa that was acquired this month by Equatorial Energia SA, filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy protection in New York, Bloomberg reported. The company, based in Belem, Brazil, listed both debt and assets of more than $1 billion in documents filed today in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan. Chapter 15 protects foreign companies from U.S. lawsuits and creditor claims while a company reorganizes abroad. Celpa is asking the U.S. court to recognize the proceeding pending before the Thirteenth Civil Court of Belem, State of Para, as a “foreign main proceeding,” according to court papers. Celpa filed for bankruptcy protection in Brazil...

Thu., November 1, 2012

Thu., November 1, 2012

Micron Technology's plan to acquire Japanese memory chipmaker Elpida took a big step toward completion after a Tokyo court approved the agreement and dismissed a rival plan promoted by a group of bondholders, Reuters reported. A district court in Tokyo said on Wednesday it was referring bankrupt Elpida's plan to be bought by U.S. chipmaker Micron to creditors for approval, according to a news release on Elpida's website. The court said it dismissed a rival proposal by a group of bondholders, led by hedge funds Linden Advisors, Owl Creek Asset Management and Taconic Capital Advisors, who have said the $2.5-billion price tag grossly undervalues Elpida, arguing that the company is worth 300...

Thu., October 25, 2012

Thu., October 25, 2012

A U.S. judge told Japanese chipmaker Elpida Memory Inc he was "troubled" by the firm's inadequate efforts to keep creditors informed about its bankruptcy process, and warned he may upend its proposed sale to U.S. rival Micron Technology Inc. Elpida's main bankruptcy proceeding is being handled by a district court in Tokyo, but Christopher Sontchi, the Delaware Bankruptcy Court judge overseeing Elpida's parallel U.S. case, said the company was taking a risk by not keeping creditors better informed. "I don't have a problem tanking a case," judge Sontchi said at a court hearing in Wilmington on Wednesday. Sontchi will eventually have to approve the transfer of U.S. assets after a sale is...

Thu., October 4, 2012

Thu., October 4, 2012

Vitro SAB, the Mexican glassmaker seeking to salvage its restructuring, urged an appeals court to enforce its bankruptcy plan in the U.S. over opposition from hedge fund Elliott Management Corp. and other creditors, Bloomberg reported. Vitro is facing “legal chaos” with a bankruptcy plan that’s valid in Mexico and unenforceable in the U.S., Vitro attorney Andrew Leblanc told the U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans today. “Vitro would be crippled in the United States” if a bankruptcy judge’s decision that denied enforcement of the plan in the U.S. is upheld, Leblanc said. The case came directly to the appeals court following a victory in bankruptcy court by Elliott and other holders of...

Tue., February 14, 2012

Tue., February 14, 2012

Individual Chapter 11 and Chapter 15: Part I and Individual Chapter 11 and Chapter 15: Part II - Charles Throckmorton, Hon. Edward A. Godoy, Luis Salazar, Patricia A. Redmond, Soneet R. Kapila

Fri., November 4, 2011

Thu., September 29, 2011

Fri., September 23, 2011

Fri., May 27, 2011

Wed., April 6, 2011