Missing Debtors: National Lawmaking and Global Norm-Making of Corporate Bankruptcy Regimes

Terence C. Halliday, Susan Block-Lieb and Bruce G. Carruthers

in A Debtor World

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199873722
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199980000 | DOI:
Missing Debtors: National Lawmaking and Global Norm-Making of Corporate Bankruptcy Regimes

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Corporate insolvency is about debt and it always involves debtor corporations as key stakeholders. It should, therefore, follow that stakeholders integral to everyday bargaining over debt management should also be integral to the meta-bargaining that produces the rules that govern everyday corporate bankruptcies. Such is not the case. In many historical circumstances—in countries with economies both advanced and developing; in situations of economic crisis and in ordinary times; in Europe, North America, and Asia—the stakeholders who mobilize to craft national bankruptcy law seldom include debtors. Debtors are also conspicuous by their absence from forums of global norm-making in which international financial institutions or international governance organizations create norms designed to guide national lawmaking. In short, a class of bankruptcy players for whom everyday bargaining over debt obligations is a matter of corporate life or death seldom appears in the forums that institutionalize the rules by which their individual fates are determined. How is this puzzle to be explained? This chapter examines hypotheses that address this issue through three research projects. The first studied the politics behind two landmark pieces of lawmaking in advanced economies—the US Bankruptcy Code of 1978 and the English Insolvency Act of 1986. The second project studied three Asian economies in the wake of the Asian Financial Crisis. The third project examines the decade-long initiatives by the UN Commission on International Trade Law to create global norms for corporate bankruptcy regimes.

Keywords: debt; corporate insolvency; national bankruptcy law; bargaining; US Bankruptcy Code; English Insolvency Act; UN Commission on International Trade Law

Chapter.  18586 words. 

Subjects: Company and Commercial Law

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