When it comes to bankruptcy, the primary source of law is the Bankruptcy Code (Title 11 of the United States Code). Title 11 of the United States Code provides a comprehensive overview of all the substantive laws dealing with bankruptcy. Title (11) is broken down into 9 Chapters, 28 subchapters and 1,532 sections.
Chapter 1 deals with “General Provisions,” and is broken down into 12 sections. The first section, “Definitions,” essentially defines keywords to be found throughout the Bankruptcy Code. These words include “attorney,” “claim,” “consumer debt,” corporation,” “debtor,” etc. This particular section is helpful to refer back to frequently when trying to understand the Code. The remainder of this Chapter sets out to establish “General Provisions,” such as the power of the courts, and who may file for bankruptcy.
Chapter 3 is entitled “Case Administration,” and explains how the bankruptcy case is to be administrated. Chapter 3 contains 4 subchapters. The first subchapter is “Commencement of a Case,” and its sections explain how a bankruptcy case is to get started. Subchapters 2 through 4, talk about “Officers,” “Administration,” and “Administrative Powers.” Within these subchapters there is information regarding: the duties and qualifications of a trustee, attorney interaction with debtors, the Meeting of Creditors, examination of debtors, the bankruptcy estate, dismissal of cases, opening and reopening of cases, adequate protection and most importantly the Automatic Stay.
Chapter 5 is “Creditors, The Debtor and The Estate.” This chapter contains 3 subchapters. The first subchapter deals with “Creditors and Claims.” Information regarding proofs of claim and liability can be found in this subchapter. The second subchapter deals with “Debtor’s Duties and Benefits.” This subchapter enumerates the debtor’s duties, exemptions and information regarding discharge and debt relief agencies. The third subchapter is entitled “The Estate.” This subchapter sets out to explain how the bankruptcy estate is formed and works throughout the case.
Chapters 7, 9, 11, 12, 13 and 15, deal with specific types of bankruptcies. Chapter 7, “Liquidation,” deals with what some people call a “straight bankruptcy.” Chapter 7 bankruptcies are the most common type of bankruptcy filed in the United States. Chapter 9, “Adjustments of Debts of a Municipality,” is available only to municipalities. A Chapter 9 allows and assists municipalities to reorganize and restructure their debt. Chapter 11, “Reorganization,” is similar to a Chapter 9, in that it allows for reorganization and restructuring of debts, but it is aimed towards businesses. Chapter 13, “Adjustments of Debt of an Individual with Regular Income,” is the same reorganization process mentioned above for individuals as supposed to businesses or municipalities. Chapter 12, “Adjustments of Debt of a Family Farmer or Fisherman with Regular Annual Income,” is only available to farmers and fisherman and is essentially the same as a Chapter 13, but with some additional provisions. Chapter 15, “Ancillary and Other Cross-Border Cases,” allows for corporations across borders to gain access to United States Bankruptcy Courts.