BANKRUPTCY CASES TO BE CONSIDERED BY SUPREME COURT PREVIEWED IN NEW "BANKRUPTCY IN DEPTH" VIDEO
ABI's next "Bankruptcy In Depth" video features ABI Resident Scholar Kara Bruce talking with Eric Brunstad of Dechert LLP (Hartford, Conn.) to preview the bankruptcy cases that the Supreme Court will consider during its 2013 term. Brunstad, who has argued many cases before the Court and is an expert in bankruptcy appellate practice, discusses in depth Law v. Siegel, which questions whether the court may use its general equitable authority under §105 of the Bankruptcy Code to surcharge a debtor's exempt assets, and Executive Benefits Insurance Agency v. Arkison (In re Bellingham), which will address the bankruptcy court's authority to adjudicate Article III matters. He also provides a candid view of what it is like to argue a case before the Court and an in-depth analysis of the issues involved with the upcoming cases. Click here to watch a preview of the forthcoming ABI "Bankruptcy In Depth" video.
FEDERAL JUDICIARY BUDGET INCREASES IN LAST-MINUTE BUDGET DEAL
The budget deal Congress approved yesterday to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling provides $51 million in additional funding to the judiciary and to federal defenders, the Legal Times reported today. Federal court officials and members of the Senate Judiciary Committee greeted the increase as good news, although it is small when compared to $350 million in budget cuts earlier this year as part of sequestration. The extra funding would primarily go to pay the backlog of attorney fees under the Criminal Justice Act, which funds court-appointed private counsel. Payments were suspended in mid-September, when funding ran out two weeks before the end of the fiscal year. The bill also includes $4.8 billion for judiciary salaries and expenses. That amounts to a $25 million annual increase over FY2013, court officials said. The legislation gives judiciary officials the ability to float those funds among accounts to respond to the most urgent budget needs as they arise. Overall, the judiciary budget would rise from about $6.65 billion to about $6.7 billion. Read more.
A report released yesterday showed that Detroit's revenue dropped by 9 percent in the first quarter of fiscal 2014 compared with the same period in fiscal 2013, but an influx of property taxes and skipped pension contributions boosted the city's cashflow, Reuters reported yesterday. In his quarterly report to Michigan officials, Kevyn Orr, Detroit's state-appointed emergency manager, said the city ended the quarter on Sept. 30 with a cash balance of $128.5 million that exceeded projections by $56.7 million. However, Orr said that Detroit's financial condition "continues to be dire" as it works its way through bankruptcy court, where its eligibility to remain there will be the subject of a trial next week. City revenue for the quarter, including property, income and gambling taxes, totaled $220.2 million, a drop of about $22 million from fiscal 2013's first quarter. Expenses also fell by about $11 million as the city's headcount dropped to approximately 9,322 workers at the quarter's end from 10,325 in the same period last year, according to the report. Read more.
The $25 billion national mortgage settlement, intended to help homeowners affected by the housing crisis, appears to be running ahead of schedule, according to a new report by the monitor of the program, the New York Times reported today. However, the number of households helped by the settlement has fallen short of the original predictions, and critics complained that too much relief was given to people who gave up their homes in short sales and not enough to help people retain their homes. Early last year, five banks signed on to the settlement over their use of mass-produced, faulty documents to evict homeowners. As of Dec. 31, they had provided $38.7 billion in relief in raw dollar terms, the report said. But because not every type of relief is counted the same way under the settlement's terms, they had fulfilled only about 80 percent of their total obligation. Prior to yesterday, banks had self-reported their progress in raw dollar terms. The new report is the first in which the monitor, Joseph A. Smith Jr., has disclosed the amount of credit they have earned toward the settlement obligation. The report credited them $4.1 billion for principal reduction on primary mortgages, $2.2 billion for principal reductions in second mortgages, and $5.4 billion in short sales or deeds in lieu of foreclosure, in which the homeowner is allowed to sell the house for less than what is owed or simply hand it over to the bank. It also credited $2.6 billion for allowing people who owed more on their mortgage than their home was worth to refinance at lower interest rates. Read more.
FANNIE MAE SURVIVAL IS BACK ON THE TABLE FOR POLICYMAKERS
The consensus in Washington, D.C., that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should be dismantled is weakening amid opposition from hedge funds, regional banks and others who could benefit if the companies survive in some form, Bloomberg News reported yesterday. President Barack Obama and lawmakers from both parties have called for the two mortgage-finance companies to be replaced by a new U.S. housing system. While the official position hasn't changed, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators writing legislation is grappling with how to ensure that changes to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac don't disrupt the recovering housing market. Some Democrats said that they are leery of engineering a switch that would liquidate the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs), leaving it to private entities to risk their own capital on home loans. Since they nearly collapsed during the 2008 credit crisis, the two companies have drawn $187.5 billion from taxpayers and have been considered too politically toxic to be preserved. While the U.S. holds controlling stakes, the outcome will affect private investors including hedge funds Perry Capital and Paulson and Co., which have accumulated preferred shares and have spent months lobbying for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to be recapitalized. The hedge funds gained little traction in early meetings with senators such as Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who publicly rejected their pleas in the spring. As the legislative process advances and involves a wider group of lawmakers, some are listening to the argument that an entirely new system could risk instability in the market. Read more.
FED WEIGHS SURCHARGE ON BANKS' PHYSICAL COMMODITY BUSINESSES
Federal Reserve officials are considering imposing a new capital surcharge on Wall Street banks that own oil pipelines, metals warehouses and other lucrative physical-commodities assets, the Wall Street Journal reported today. Such an approach could encourage banks to pare back their involvement in physical commodities, which has increasingly raised concerns among regulators and lawmakers. While no decision has been made, imposing a surcharge would allow the Fed to sidestep a legal jam caused by existing laws that set Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley apart from peers and give the former investment banks broad leeway to own commodities. The Fed has been considering scaling back the ability of banks to own such assets amid concerns that commodities ownership has expanded beyond what regulators originally envisioned. To avoid a regulatory situation where only some banks can own commodities, the Fed is considering a surcharge that would ensure that all banks hold more capital to account for potential risks posed by the assets they own or lease. Read more. (Subscription required.)
ABI LAUNCHES SIXTH ANNUAL WRITING COMPETITION FOR LAW STUDENTS
Law school students are invited to submit a paper between now and March 4, 2014 for ABI's Sixth Annual Bankruptcy Law Student Writing Competition. ABI will extend a complimentary one-year membership to all students who participate in this year's competition. Eligible submissions should focus on current issues regarding bankruptcy jurisdiction, bankruptcy litigation, or evidence issues in bankruptcy cases or proceedings. The first-place winner, sponsored by Invotex Group, Inc., will receive a cash prize of $2,000 and publication of his or her paper in the ABI Journal. The second-place winner, sponsored by Jenner & Block LLP, will receive a cash prize of $1,250 and publication of his or her paper in an ABI committee newsletter. The third-place winner, sponsored by Thompson & Knight LLP, will receive a cash prize of $750 plus publication of his or her paper in an ABI committee newsletter. For competition participation and submission guidelines, please visit http://papers.abi.org.
RISKY TIMES FOR SECURED LENDERS AND SERVICERS TO BE FOCUS OF FIRST ABI WORKSHOP PROGRAM- ATTEND IN PERSON OR VIA LIVE WEBSTREAM!
You will not want to miss the abiWorkshops series' inaugural program, "Risky Times for Secured Lenders and Servicers." The program is cosponsored by TMA (Chesapeake), IWIRC (D.C./Greater Maryland) and RMA (Potomac), and will be held on Nov. 6 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET in the ABI Headquarters Conference Center in Alexandria, Va. The abiWorkshops series provides attendees two great ways of participating: You can register to attend in person at the ABI Conference Center, or you can participate via a live webstream! Topics that will be covered on the Nov. 6 program include:
- Living with the New CFPB Mortgage Servicing Rules
Business Lending: Navigating What Lies Ahead
- Business Lending: Recent Legal Developments
For more information or to register for the "Risky Times for Secured Lenders and Servicers" abiWorkshop on Nov. 6, please click here.
EXPERTS TO EXAMINE STUDENT LENDING AND BANKRUPTCY AT ABI WORKSHOP PROGRAM ON NOV. 15
Experts will tackle the hot topic of student lending issues in bankruptcy on the abiWorkshops series' new program, "You Can't Discharge Student Loans in Bankruptcy - Or Can You?" The program will be held on Nov. 15 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET in the ABI Headquarters Conference Center in Alexandria, Va. The abiWorkshops series provides attendees two great ways of participating: You can register to attend in person at the ABI Conference Center, or you can participate via a live webstream! Topics that will be covered on the Nov. 15 program include:
- Student Lending Today: Who Borrows, How Much, Delinquency & Default Trends
- Repayment Options: Income Based Repayment and New Lender/Servicer Programs
- Litigation under Sect. 523(a)(8): What Proofs Are Needed? Evidence Demonstration
For more information or to register for the "You Can't Discharge Student Loans in Bankruptcy - Or Can You?" abiWorkshop on Nov. 15, please click here.
ABI GOLF TOUR UNDERWAY; LAST STOP FOR 2013 IS WINTER LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE IN DECEMBER
The 7th and final stop for the 2013 ABI Golf Tour is on Dec. 5 at the Trump National Golf Club, held in conjunction with ABI’s Winter Leadership Conference. Final scoring to win the Great American Cup sponsored by Great American Group is based on your top three scores from the seven ABI events. See the Tour page for details and course descriptions. The ABI Golf Tour combines networking with fun competition, as golfers "play their own ball." Including your handicap means everyone has an equal chance to compete for the glory of being crowned ABI's top golfer of 2013! A 22-handicapper won the tour event at July’s Southeast Bankruptcy Workshop. There's no charge to register or participate in the Tour.
NEW CASE SUMMARY ON VOLO: UTNEHMER V. CRULL (IN RE UTNEHMER; 9TH CIR.)
Summarized by Hilda Montesde Oca of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California
Applying California partnership law, the Ninth Circuit Bankruptcy Appellate Panel reversed the bankruptcy court because it erred when it decided that a partnership existed between the debtor defendant and plaintiff creditor based upon the terms of a loan agreement. As there was no partnership, the debtor owed no fiduciary obligations to the creditor. The BAP further found that the bankruptcy court used the wrong mens rea standard for defalcation. As a result, the bankruptcy court erred in determining that debtor's debt to creditor was excepted from discharge as a defalcation by a fiduciary pursuant to § 523(a)(4).
There are more than 1,000 appellate opinions summarized on Volo, and summaries typically appear within 24 hours of the ruling. Click here regularly to view the latest case summaries on ABI’s Volo website.
NEW ON ABI’S BANKRUPTCY BLOG EXCHANGE: OCC'S COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE LENDING HANDBOOK MISSES THE MARK ON POTENTIAL LEGAL ISSUES
The Bankruptcy Blog Exchange is a free ABI service that tracks more than 80 bankruptcy-related blogs. A recent blog post finds the new version of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency's (OCC) Commercial Real Estate Lending Handbook to be lacking in addressing potential legal issues associated with risks in commercial real estate lending.
The abiWorkshops series' inaugural program, "Risky Times for Secured Lenders and Servicers," on Nov. 6 will cover potential legal issues associated with commercial lending. Attend in person or via live webstream.
Be sure to check the site several times each day; any time a contributing blog posts a new story, a link to the story will appear on the top. If you have a blog that deals with bankruptcy, or know of a good blog that should be part of the Bankruptcy Exchange, please contact the ABI Web team.
ABI Quick Poll
Does the bankruptcy court's Section 105 power enable it to surcharge the debtor's exempt property?
Click here to vote on this week's Quick Poll. Click here to view the results of previous Quick Polls.
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