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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently issued an opinion concluding that trustees can pursue recovery from foreign subsequent transferees who received property in transactions that occurred entirely outside the United States. The opinion reversed two lower court rulings and arguably conflicts with Supreme Court precedent on extraterritoriality of U.S. legislation.
The fraudulent transfer provisions of the Bankruptcy Code give trustees broad power to avoid transfers of property that were made by the debtor before the bankruptcy case if either: 1) the debtor transferred the property with actual intent to hinder, delay or defraud creditors; or 2) the debtor received less than reasonably equivalent value in exchange for the transferred property. 11 U.S.C. §548(a)(1). If the transfer is avoidable, then a separate provision of the Bankruptcy Code gives trustees power to recover the property from the initial transferee or any subsequent transferee who received the property directly or indirectly from the initial transferee. 11 U.S.C. §550(a). In cases where trustees seek to recover property from subsequent transferees located outside the United States who received the property from transferors also located outside the United States, the question arises whether the Bankruptcy Code’s fraudulent transfer recovery provision reaches that transaction — in other words, whether §550(a) applies extraterritorially to allow trustees to recover property from foreign subsequent transferees.
By Michael L. Cook
A bankruptcy court decision recently detailed how courts applying Bankruptcy Code §303(i) can sanction creditors who “abuse … the power given to [them] … to file an involuntary bankruptcy petition.” The decision shows why the filing of an involuntary bankruptcy requires careful pre-filing legal judgment.
By Rena Andoh and Kate Ross
When a company declares bankruptcy, avoidance actions under Chapter 5 of the Bankruptcy Code can assist in securing extra cash for the debtor’s dwindling estate. When a debtor-in-possession does not pursue these claims, creditors’ committees often seek the bankruptcy court’s authorization to pursue them on behalf of the estate. Once granted such authorization through a “standing order,” a creditors’ committee is said to “stand in the debtor’s shoes” because it has permission to litigate certain claims belonging to the debtor that arose before bankruptcy. However, for parties whose cases advance to discovery, such a standing order may cause issues by leaving undecided the allocation of attorney-client privilege and work product protection between the debtor and committee.
By Dan T. Moss and Mark G. Douglas
It has been generally understood that recognition of a foreign bankruptcy proceeding under Chapter 15 is a prerequisite to the enforcement by a U.S. court of an order or judgment entered in such a foreign bankruptcy proceeding under the doctrine of "comity." A ruling recently handed down by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York directly challenges that principle.
By Michael L. Cook
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York denied a litigation trustee’s motion for leave to file a sixth amended complaint that would have asserted constructive fraudulent transfer claims against 5,000 Tribune Company shareholders. The safe harbor of Bankruptcy Code §546(e) barred the trustee’s proposed claims.