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Personal Insolvency in the 21st Century: A Comparative Analysis of the US and Europe

ISBN13: 9781509932177
Published: September 2019
Publisher: Hart Publishing
Country of Publication: UK
Format: Paperback (Hardback in 2017)
Price: £30.00
Hardback edition , ISBN13 9781849468091

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Since 1979 the world has witnessed a remarkable cycle of individual bankruptcy law reform. Changes in capitalist economies, financial crises and political interest groups all contributed to this cycle of reform. Differences exist between European systems in terms of access criteria, institutional frameworks, financing and discharge conditions.

What explains these differences within Europe and those between Europe and the US? This book draws on insights from historical institutionalism to illustrate the role of timing, path dependency and unintended consequences in the development of individual bankruptcy law.

The book presents case studies of individual bankruptcy law in the US, France, Sweden and England and Wales. It analyses how, following the Great Recession of 2008, international financial institutions identified the significance of household debt and individual bankruptcy for financial architecture.

The EU imposed individual bankruptcy reform on certain Member States, and proposed bankruptcy harmonisation to promote individual entrepreneurialism. The book examines the likelihood of greater convergence on an EU individual bankruptcy paradigm, and how this fits conceptions of neo-liberalism and the social market.

Finally, the book discusses whether the international emergence of individual bankruptcy law represents a progressive step or a band-aid for the costs of neo-liberal policies, where a significant number of people live close to the precipice of over-indebtedness.

Insolvency Law
1. The Rise of Personal Insolvency Law
I. Introduction
II. Explanations for Stability and Change in Personal Insolvency Law
III. Household Debt, Neo-liberalism, and Personal Insolvency Law
IV. Summary

2. US Exceptionalism?
I. Introduction
II. The Challenge of the Wage Earner Debtor: The 1930s
III. The Wage Earner as Consumer Debtor: 1950s–1978
IV. Layering and Changing the Narrative: 1978–97
V. BAPCPA 2005-the Great Recession and the Future
VI. The Role of the State in US Bankruptcy Law
VII. Discussion

3. Drift, Conversion, and Layering: England and Wales
I. Introduction
II. The Players in English Personal Insolvency Reform
III. Drifting-the Sad Life of the English Administration Order
IV. Conversion: The Individual Voluntary Arrangement
V. Framing the Policy Response After the Enterprise Act: Borrowing Binges
VI. Relief for the Deserving Poor: The Debt Relief Order
VII. The Great Recession and Personal Insolvency Law
VIII. Discussion

4. France: Contingency, the Role of Narratives, and the New Droit Social
I. Introduction
II. Over-indebtedness Regulation in Context
III. The Development of the Over-indebtedness Regime
IV. Legitimating Narratives: From Active to Passive Debtor to...?
V. The Changing Institutional Landscape: Commissions, Courts, and the Law in Action
VI. Discussion

5. Sweden: The Quality of Mercy is Strained
I. Introduction
II. Swedish Regulation of the Consumer Credit Market
III. The Development of the Swedish Debt Restructuring System
IV. Who Accesses the Swedish Debt Restructuring System?
V. Debt Counselling and the 'Enabling Welfare State'
VI. The Five-Year Plan
VII. Protection Against Home Eviction and Mortgage Foreclosure
VIII. Discussion

6. After the Crisis: Towards an International 'Common Sense' in Personal Insolvency Law?
I. Introduction
II. International Initiatives: After the Great Recession
III. European Union Consumer Credit Policy and Personal Insolvency
IV. EU Personal Insolvency Policy after the Crisis
V. EU Narratives
VI. Bankruptcy Tourism, Regulatory Competition, and Regulatory Learning
VII. Towards a European Paradigm?
VIII. Conclusion

7. Conclusion: The Future of Personal Insolvency in the Twenty-First Century
I. Influential Interest Groups
II. Contemporary Narratives of Personal Insolvency
III. Technocracy and Democracy in Personal Insolvency Reform
IV. The Limits of Individual Insolvency?