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Bankruptcy Fiduciary Duties In The World Of Claims Trading, John A.E. Pottow Oct 2018

Bankruptcy Fiduciary Duties In The World Of Claims Trading, John A.E. Pottow

Articles

In earlier work, I explored the role of fiduciary duties in the bankruptcy trustee's administration of a debtor's estate, noting the absence of any explicit demarcation of those duties in the Bankruptcy Code. In this piece, I report the highlights of that analysis and see to what extent (if any) fiduciary duties can inform policy prescriptions for the issue of bankruptcy claims trading, colorfully referred to by some as the world of "bankruptcy M&A." My initial take is pessimistic. Fiduciary duties, at least as traditionally conceived in bankruptcy, are unlikely to provide much help. But there is ...


Detroit's Real Challenge, John A. E. Pottow Jan 2014

Detroit's Real Challenge, John A. E. Pottow

Articles

When Detroit became the largest city in U.S. history to file for bankruptcy, it was a bad thing—unless you have the unique world-view of a bankruptcy lawyer, in which case it was marvelous news, worthy of celebration.


A New Role For Secondary Proceedings In International Bankruptcies, John A. E. Pottow Jan 2011

A New Role For Secondary Proceedings In International Bankruptcies, John A. E. Pottow

Articles

Secondary proceedings-the ugly stepsisters to main proceedings-get short shrift in international bankruptcy scholarship. This article seeks to remedy that deficiency. First, it describes what it argues are the traditional conceptions-both stated and implicit-of secondary proceedings in international bankruptcies. Second, it offers a revised way of thinking about secondary proceedings, proposing to restrict their scope through the use of "synthetic" hearings. Third, it addresses some problems with the proposed new role of secondary proceedings and sketches a possible solution involving the creation of an international priorities registry.


Government Involvement In Chrysler Bankruptcy: The Least-Worst Alternative?, John A. E. Pottow Jan 2010

Government Involvement In Chrysler Bankruptcy: The Least-Worst Alternative?, John A. E. Pottow

Articles

As usual, my colleague Jim White has hit many nails on many heads. Also as usual, however, I’m going to be a pain and part ways with him a bit. First, was Chrysler’s bankruptcy “suspicious” in its use of section 363 of the Bankruptcy Code? You bet. Leaving aside the proliferation of 363 sales to swallow Chapter 11 as we once knew it, Chrysler was out in left field. Not only was it a “sale” of everything meaningful in the company, it was to a seller—Fiat—that put in no money. (To be fair, Fiat agreed to ...


Chrysler's Bankruptcy: Money Laundering On A Grand Scale, James J. White Jan 2010

Chrysler's Bankruptcy: Money Laundering On A Grand Scale, James J. White

Articles

The interesting issue in Chrysler is not the lawyers’ manipulation of the law; it is the politicians’ use of the bankruptcy to launder money. Had the President simply announced that the federal government would give $4 billion to the UAW, the public, even the public in the UAW’s home state of Michigan, would have been up in arms. By laundering the money through the Chapter 11 process, the administration disguised the payment and avoided the outrage.


Bankruptcy Noir, James J. White Jan 2008

Bankruptcy Noir, James J. White

Articles

In Bankruptcy Fire Sales, Professor LoPucki and Dr. Doherty do two things. First, they present provocative data about the relative payoff to be had in Chapter 11 by a full reorganization compared with the payoff from a section 363 sale without a full reorganization. Second, they give a yet more provocative explanation for their data. Taking a page from Professor LoPucki's recent book, they blame the meager return that they observe on 363 sales on the unprincipled behavior of the lawyers, managers, creditors, investment bankers, and even judges involved in the sales. Messrs. LoPucki and Doherty's data appear ...


Partially Odious Debts?, Omri Ben-Shahar, Mitu Gulati Jan 2007

Partially Odious Debts?, Omri Ben-Shahar, Mitu Gulati

Articles

The despotic ruler of a poor nation borrows extensively from foreign creditors. He spends some of those funds on building statues of himself, others on buying arms for his brutal secret police, and he places the remainder in his personal bank accounts in Switzerland. The longer the despot stays in power, the poorer the nation becomes. Although the secret police are able to keep prodemocracy protests subdued by force for many years, eventually there is a popular revolt. The despot flees the scene with a few billion dollars of his illgotten gains. The populist regime that replaces the despot now ...


Private Liability For Reckless Consumer Lending, John A. E. Pottow Jan 2007

Private Liability For Reckless Consumer Lending, John A. E. Pottow

Articles

Congress recently enacted amendments to the Bankruptcy Code that possess the overarching theme of cracking down on debtors due to the increasing rate at which individuals have been filing for bankruptcy. Taking into account the correlation between the overall rise in consumer credit card debt and the rate of individual bankruptcy filings, the author nevertheless hypothesizes that not all credit card debt is troubling. Instead, the author proposes that the catalyst driving individual bankruptcy rates higher than ever is the level of "bad credit"-or credit extended to individuals even though there is a reasonable likelihood that the individual will ...


The Myth (And Realities) Of Forum Shopping In Transnational Insolvency, John A. E. Pottow Jan 2007

The Myth (And Realities) Of Forum Shopping In Transnational Insolvency, John A. E. Pottow

Articles

A decade ago, in 1996, the landscape of transnational insolvencies was vastly different from today. The UNCITRAL Model Law had not been finished, the efforts at the E.U. Insolvency Treaty were jeopardized by mad cows, and no one had heard of Chapter 15. Now, all three universalist projects are up and running, putting universalism in a comfortable state of ascendancy. The paradigm has not been without critics, however, the most persistent and eloquent of which has been Professor Lynn LoPucki. LoPucki has periodically attacked universalism on a number of grounds. These grievances include a sovereigntist complaint of universalism's ...


Greed And Pride In International Bankruptcy: The Problems Of And Proposed Solutions To 'Local Interests', John A. E. Pottow Jan 2006

Greed And Pride In International Bankruptcy: The Problems Of And Proposed Solutions To 'Local Interests', John A. E. Pottow

Articles

The collapses of Yukos, Parmalat, and other international juggernauts have focused scholarly attention on the failure of multinational enterprises. Even what one might consider "American" companies, such as Chicago-based United Airlines, have made clear in their restructuring plans that their operations have profound effects on the dozens of nations around the globe where they transact business. Government and quasi-government reform efforts to regulate these cross-border insolvencies have abounded, including among others, the UNCITRAL Model Law on Cross-Border Insolvency. UNCITRAL is also building on World Bank and INSOL efforts at promulgating a Legislative Guide for "best practices" bankruptcy codes. Scholars vary ...


Abuse Prevention 2005, James J. White Jan 2006

Abuse Prevention 2005, James J. White

Articles

Today I do not debate the empirical question (what is the cause of the increase in bankruptcy filings?) nor do I address the buried moral question (who deserves the protection of bankruptcy law?). Rather, I speculate about the consequences of 2005 amendments to the Bankruptcy Code and about the reasons it will achieve or fail to achieve the goals of its sponsors. Along the way I hope to learn something about how law changes, or fails to change behavior.


Procedural Incrementalism: A Model For International Bankruptcy, John A. E. Pottow Jan 2005

Procedural Incrementalism: A Model For International Bankruptcy, John A. E. Pottow

Articles

The headline-grabbing business failures of late have brought increased attention to the relatively unresolved area of multinational bankruptcies. Parmalat, Global Crossing, and United Airlines are among the few international juggernauts that have foundered. In the financial meltdowns of these cross-border institutions, assets and creditors are dispersed throughout commercial environments that rarely end neatly at national borders. There has been heated debate, both in scholarly literature and the practical battlefield, over how best to resolve these transnational insolvencies, and there is nothing yet approaching a consensus. Reform efforts of various stripes have almost uniformly failed to gain meaningful international support. At ...


Death And Resurrection Of Secured Credit, James J. White Jan 2004

Death And Resurrection Of Secured Credit, James J. White

Articles

The Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978 (the Code) posed palpable threats to secured creditors. It was drafted by a commission that was at least as concerned with the rights of debtors as with the rights of creditors. It was modified and adopted by a Congress that might have been the most liberal since World War II and signed into law by President Carter at the apogee of the left's power, two years before the Reagan election that marked the rise of the right and the beginning of the left's decline. The power of the left was exerted most ...


Chuck And Steve's Peccadillo (Symposium: Threats To Secured Lending And Asset Securitization), James J. White Jan 2004

Chuck And Steve's Peccadillo (Symposium: Threats To Secured Lending And Asset Securitization), James J. White

Articles

Are investors in securitized receivables to be treated as the owners of an asset whose sale has taken it beyond the reach of the trustee in bankruptcy of their sellers? O are they to be treated as holders of a security interest in the transferred asset who have left behind an interest in the sellers' hands that would cause the asset to be subject to claims and interference by the sellers' grasping trustee? By adopting contrasting-arguably conflicting-statements in two subsections of a single section, the drafters of 1999 Article 9 have thrust this issue in the faces of courts and ...


The Usury Trompe L'Oeil, James J. White Jan 2000

The Usury Trompe L'Oeil, James J. White

Articles

This Article demonstrates how the interaction of a federal statute passed in 1864,1 a case decided by the Supreme Court in 1978,2 and modem technology has legally debarred every state legislature from controlling consumer interest rates in its state-but not from passing laws that appear to do so-and has politically debarred the Congress from setting federal rates to replace the state rates. As a consequence, the elaborate usury laws on the books of most states are only a trompe l'oeil, a "visual deception... rendered in extremely fine detail ... ." The presence of these finely detailed laws gives the ...


Corporate Judgement Proofing: A Response To Lynn Lopucki's 'The Death Of Liability', James J. White Jan 1998

Corporate Judgement Proofing: A Response To Lynn Lopucki's 'The Death Of Liability', James J. White

Articles

In "The Death of Liability" Professor Lynn M. LoPucki argues that American businesses are rendering themselves judgment proof.- Using the metaphor of a poker game, Professor LoPucki claims American businesses are increasingly able to participate in the poker game without putting "chips in the pot." He argues that it has become easier for American companies to play the game without having chips in the pot because of the ease with which a modern debtor can grant secured credit, because of the growth of the peculiar form of sale known as asset securitization, because foreign havens for secreting assets are now ...


The Slippery Slope To Bankruptcy - Should Some Claimants Get A 'Carve-Out' From Secured Credit? No: It's A Populist Craving For A Petit Bourgeois Valhalla, James J. White Jan 1998

The Slippery Slope To Bankruptcy - Should Some Claimants Get A 'Carve-Out' From Secured Credit? No: It's A Populist Craving For A Petit Bourgeois Valhalla, James J. White

Articles

In 1996, Professor Elizabeth Warren made a proposal to the American Law Institute and the Drafting Committee for Article 9 for a “20 percent set aside” for unsecured claimants. As I understand it, her proposal would amend Section 9-301 of Article 9 (the section that now implicitly subordinates a lien creditor to a prior perfected secured creditor).


The Virtue Of Speed In Bankruptcy Proceedings, James J. White Jan 1997

The Virtue Of Speed In Bankruptcy Proceedings, James J. White

Articles

In my opinion the principal difficulty with Chapter 11 is that it gives strong incentives to various Chapter 11 players to distort the priorities that were intended by Congress.


Rights Of Subrogation In Letters Of Credit Transactions, James J. White Jan 1996

Rights Of Subrogation In Letters Of Credit Transactions, James J. White

Articles

The past twenty years have seen more than a dozen cases, in which parties to letter of credit transactions have sought subrogation to the rights of the person they have paid or to the rights of the persons on behalf of whom, they have acted.' The most obvious case arises when the issuer of a standby letter of credit pays a beneficiary on a debt that is owed to the beneficiary by a bankrupt applicant. Having failed to take 'collateral from the applicant, the issuer seeks to be subrogated to the security interest of the beneficiary. Failing subrogation, the issuer ...


Harvey's Silence (Symposium: Letters To The Commission), James J. White Jan 1995

Harvey's Silence (Symposium: Letters To The Commission), James J. White

Articles

Harvey Miller has a reputation as a leading bankruptcy lawyer, and he deserves it. As his criticism shows, he understands why and how the Code changed the Act in 1978 and how the drafters of Chapter 11 erred. Better than all but a handful of other lawyers, Harvey Miller knows how to manipulate Chapter 11 to serve his clients' interests. He understands both the legal and practical intricacies of Chapter 11. Were I the CEO of a large and troubled company, I would hire Harvey Miller and gladly pay him twice what most other bankruptcy lawyers would charge. In short ...


Reforming Article 9 Priorities In Light Of Old Ignorance And New Filing Rules (Symposium: 'Managing The Paper Trail': Evaluating And Reforming The Article 9 Filing System), James J. White Jan 1995

Reforming Article 9 Priorities In Light Of Old Ignorance And New Filing Rules (Symposium: 'Managing The Paper Trail': Evaluating And Reforming The Article 9 Filing System), James J. White

Articles

The other papers in this Symposium demonstrate that we have the technical capacity to build a filing system that will exceed the expectations of Grant Gilmore in every dimension.1 With more thought about what is put into the system and more clever software to get it out, the most sophisticated system possible under current technology will store and produce enough information about a debtor to give the ACLU a fright. All of the issues on improving the filing system are important, but I do not concern myself with any of them directly. I am here discuss a different question ...


Work And Play In Revising Article 9 (Symposium On The Revision Of Article 9 Of The Uniform Commercial Code), James J. White Jan 1994

Work And Play In Revising Article 9 (Symposium On The Revision Of Article 9 Of The Uniform Commercial Code), James J. White

Articles

For Professors Harris and Mooney the time has come to distinguish between work and play. Debating whether security is efficient is play. Revising Article 9 is work. Even Professor Schwartz does not argue for the abolition of Article 9; he merely reiterates the "puzzle" of secured credit and argues in his playful fashion that security might not be efficient.' Were it not for the fact that this debate might give us some insights about certain priority rules (such as those having to do with purchase money), it would be pure intellectual masturbation, a game with no purpose other than to ...


Revising Article 9 To Reduce Wasteful Litigation, James J. White Jan 1993

Revising Article 9 To Reduce Wasteful Litigation, James J. White

Articles

For reasons that are unclear to me, the committees reviewing the articles of the Uniform Commercial Code and drafting revisions are congenitally conservative. Perhaps these committees take their charge too seriously, namely, to revise, not to revolutionize. Perhaps their intimate knowledge of the subject matter exaggerates the importance of each section and consequently magnifies the apparent size of every change. In any case, my own experience with two such committees tells me that the members quickly become focused on revisions and amendments that any outsider would describe as modest. To the extent that the revision of any of the articles ...


Preference Conundrums, James J. White, Daniel Israel Jan 1993

Preference Conundrums, James J. White, Daniel Israel

Articles

Every law teacher and many law students and practitioners understand the intellectual sport to be found in Section 547 on preference law. Because the preference rules are so intricate, rigorously logical-but really not logical-they command more than their fair attention, not only in law school but also in continuing legal education and even in the courts. Our purpose in this article is not to answer any of the difficult questions or to give a global explanation of preference law. Rather it is to confront a few of the conundrums in Section 547 and to follow the paths of those conundrums ...


Lender Liability: The Dilemma Of The Controlling Creditor, J. Dennis Hynes Jan 1991

Lender Liability: The Dilemma Of The Controlling Creditor, J. Dennis Hynes

Articles

No abstract provided.


Absolute Priority And New Value, James J. White Jan 1991

Absolute Priority And New Value, James J. White

Articles

This paper is based on a lecture given on December 6, 1990 ast the Second Annual Robert E. Krinock Lecture. The absolute priority rule is a specific application of the broader doctrine that reorganization plans must be "fair and equitable." Both have their origins in the railroad reorganization cases of the early 20th century. The general doctrine is now codified in section 1129(b)(2) of the Bankruptcy Code and the rule is codified in subsection 1129(b)(2)(B)(ii) which provides that the debtor must pay a nonconsenting class of unsecured creditors in full or "the holder of ...


Taking From Farm Lenders And Farm Debtors: Chapter 12 Of The Bankruptcy Code, James J. White Jan 1987

Taking From Farm Lenders And Farm Debtors: Chapter 12 Of The Bankruptcy Code, James J. White

Articles

In passing Chapter 12 of the Bankruptcy Reform Act, Congress has effectively invalidated certain important provisions of existing farm mortgages. Equally significant, Congress has disabled farmers from granting binding mortgages on the full, value of their property. Although no court is likely to find the Chapter to violate the fifth amendment, the Chapter constitutes a substantial and retroactive alteration of the rights of existing mortgagees and a restriction on the powers of prospective mortgagors to grant valid mortgages. The thesis of this paper is that Congress was both wrong and shortsighted in its enactment of Chapter 12. Congress was wrong ...


Dancing On The Edge Of Article 9, James J. White Jan 1986

Dancing On The Edge Of Article 9, James J. White

Articles

Despite the fact that Article 9 is a much more comprehensive personal property security statute than was ever found in American law prior to its enactment, cases continue to present issues on the scope of the Article. Gone are the cases in which a court was called upon to determine whether a "conditional sales contract" could be dealt with under the "factor's lien" law; it is now clear that all such personal property security devices are governed by Article 9. Yet many problems remain for the unwary lawyer. I will identify several and deal in detail with three of ...


Efficiency Justifications For Personal Property Security, James J. White Jan 1984

Efficiency Justifications For Personal Property Security, James J. White

Articles

In February of 1983 Pan American World Airways issued 100 million dollars of convertible secured notes. As security for these notes it put up three Boeing 747 SP aircraft, two 747-100 aircraft, and one McDonnell Douglas DC10-30. The appraised value of these aircraft was 157 million dollars. To the extent possible under the law, Pan American made these aircraft subject to the claims of the owners of the new notes. On default, the note holders would have the first claim on these aircraft, would have the right to repossess them outside of bankruptcy, and would have the right to the ...


The Bildisco Case And The Congressional Response, James J. White Jan 1984

The Bildisco Case And The Congressional Response, James J. White

Articles

Section 365 of the Bankruptcy Reform Act authorizes one in bankruptcy to "assume or reject any executory contract ...of the debtor." The most frequent use of the section arises when a lessee goes into Chapter 11 and decides either to reject its real estate lease with its lessor or, if the lease is at a favorable rental rate, to assume it and assign it to another. A less frequent but more controversial use of section 365 is to reject one's collective bargaining agreement with his employees.