Section 1129(b)

Overview and Analysis of Select Provisions of the ABI Chapter 11 Reform Commission Final Report and Recommendations

In December 2014, the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI) issued its Final Report and Recommendations of the Commission to Study the Reform of Chapter 11. The Report is almost 400 pages long and contains more than 200 recommendations. Twenty-two Commissioners, including attorneys, academics, financial advisors and a former bankruptcy judge spent more than two years taking testimony from over 90 additional restructuring experts and considering the reports provided by 13 advisory committees, each comprised of 10-12 members from the bankruptcy bench, the bankruptcy bar, the financial community and academia. The Commission developed the report with goals including: reducing barriers to entry for debtors, facilitating more efficient resolution of disputed matters, enhancing debtors’ restructuring options and creating an alternative restructuring scheme for smaller businesses.

The recommendations do not constitute proposed legislation. Rather, the Report represents the opinion of the Commissioners and will spur debate. It ultimately could help lead to comprehensive overhaul of the almost 40-year old Bankruptcy Code. Recognizing that major bankruptcy reform generally takes years to wind its way through Congress, the Report implicitly acknowledges that 2018 is an appropriate target date for reform.

That does not mean the Report should be taken lightly, as it represents the consensus view of many well-regarded bankruptcy practitioners, academics and judges. At minimum, the Report will mark the commencement of a conversation about what the Commissioners view as much-needed reforms to the Bankruptcy Code. We also expect the report to receive the attention of judges and litigants in upcoming matters. Parties may look to the Commission’s interpretations of open legal questions as support for their assertions that certain interpretations represent the “better” argument or the “intended” result.

The Report covers nearly every aspect of the chapter 11 process with a multitude of suggested modifications to the Bankruptcy Code and bankruptcy jurisprudence. Below is our analysis of a number of the Commission’s most critical recommendations and of the potential impact of the proposed recommendations on the bankruptcy process.

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Detroit Confirms Chapter 9 Plan of Adjustment

Approximately 16 months after filing the largest chapter 9 bankruptcy in history, Detroit received approval November 7 of its chapter 9 plan of adjustment.  Bankruptcy Judge Stephen Rhodes of the Eastern District of Michigan Bankruptcy Court, confirmed the plan at a several-hour hearing where he read into the record an “oral opinion.”  Judge Rhodes held that the plan “meets the legal requirements for confirmation” and lauded the plan, describing it as an “extraordinary accomplishment in bankruptcy and an ideal model for future municipal restructurings.”  In re City of Detroit, Case No. 13-53846 (Bankr. E.D. Mich., November 7, 2014).  Read More.