Four decades and several years ago, Congress repeals the Federal Bankruptcy Act of 1898 and replaces it with the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978, aka the “Bankruptcy Code.”[Fn. 1]
A decade later, Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court are still disparaging the new Bankruptcy Code as the “sweeping changes Congress instituted in 1978” and “the radical reforms of 1978.”[Fn. 2]
The case is Wells v. McCallister, Case No. 21-1448 in the United States Supreme Court.
The question presented is:
- whether a debtor’s homestead exemption, existing on the date of bankruptcy filing, can vanish if the debtor sells the homestead during the bankruptcy and does not promptly reinvest the proceeds in another homestead.
The Petition for writ of certiorari explains:
The ramifications of uneven increases to fees in chapter 11 bankruptcies continue to ripple through federal courts.
In its Siegel v. Fitzgerald opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court declares that disparate quarterly fee amounts between U.S. Trustee and Bankruptcy Administrator districts are unconstitutional, under the uniformity requirement of the U.S. Constitution’s bankruptcy clause.
The most recent fallout from that opinion is the following docket entry by the U.S. Supreme Court in a different case with the same issues:
Over the past decade, or so, we have seen situations in Chapter 11 cases where groups of creditors contracted with debtors for the exclusive right to provide new money on extremely favorable terms, with significant "backstop" fees paid in connection therewith, and other creditors in the same class were excluded from participating in such investments. E.g., Peabody Coal, CHC Helicopter, Pacific Drilling, Momentive and most recently, LATAM Airlines and TPC Group.
Since 1988, the ‘rule in West Mercia’ – so named after the West Mercia Safetywear v Dodd Court of Appeal case – has been the leading authority for when directors of financially stressed companies are subject to the so-called ‘creditor duty’, namely the duty to consider the interests of the company’s creditors.
Last week, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom released its judgment in BTI 2014 LLC v Sequana SA. This marks the first occasion on which the nature, scope and content of directors' duties to creditors when a company is nearing insolvency (the "Creditor Duty") has been considered by the Supreme Court.
The saga of the first Ultra Petroleum Corp. chapter 11 cases appears to have finally come to an end. Numerous articles have been written on the tortured history of whether certain creditors of Ultra Petroleum are entitled to payment of their contractually mandated Make-Whole Amount and default rate of interest.
The Supreme Court’s decision in BTI v Sequana & Others represents the most significant ruling on the duties of directors of distressed companies of the past 30 years.
This Supreme Court decision considers the balancing exercise which directors are required to carry out between the respective interests of creditors and shareholders when a company is in financial distress.
This note summarises the key points from the ruling and the practical effect of this decision.
In In re Rehabilitation of Scottish Re (U.S.), Inc., C.A. No. 2019-0175-JTL (Del. Ch. Apr.18, 2022), the Delaware Court of Chancery ruled, as a matter of first impression, that in a delinquency proceeding for an insurance company under Delaware law, there is no per se requirement that a rehabilitation plan meet a “liquidation standard” to obtain court approval. Under the “liquidation standard,” a rehabilitation plan must provide claimants at least “liquidation value,” or the value they would have received in a liquidation proceeding.