Chapter 11: Conventional Wisdom and Reality by Jay Lawrence Westbrook and Elizabeth Warren


Jay Lawrence Westbrook (University of Texas at Austin School of Law) and Elizabeth Warren (Harvard Law School)

Chapter  11 has greatly influenced bankruptcy reforms all over the world, but has been attacked as imposing great costs and delay with relatively meager rates of success as measured by confirmation of plans. Although some recent data have hinted at a less negative picture of the efficiency of Chapter  11, it is now also claimed it has become a mere liquidation device controlled for the benefit of creditors, with equity owners dismissed at the door. This paper reports data from two large multi-district studies of business bankruptcy for cases filed in 1994 and 2002. It finds a confirmation rate up to 70% among cases with a realistic change of success and an overall system that disposes of losers quite early in the process. The paper confirms that there was a sharp increase in the use of Chapter  11 for liquidation between 1994 and 2002, but reports that equity owners still retain an interest going forward in a majority of cases. Read Paper



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