Chapter 11 of the US bankruptcy code focuses on “reorganizing” a business. This allows it to stay alive while restructuring debt and making a plan to repay creditors over time.
For many struggling businesses, the Chapter 11 Subchapter V is a long-awaited life preserver. A traditional Chapter 11 was extremely expensive for businesses. Businesses hope it eliminates some of the bureaucratic pitfalls of The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA).
The BAPCPA was supposed to make filing for Chapter 11 easier. Instead, it included more reporting requirements and other burdens that bogged down the act and canceled out the benefits.
Subchapter V shares some similarities to the BAPCPA. Both have one-step confirmation, and both add new features that make filing for Chapter 11 easier for small businesses.
To be eligible for this option, a debtor must meet the following criteria:
- Engaged in commercial activity
- Total debts must be less than $2,725,725 (both secured and unsecured)
- At least half of the debts must be due to business activity
- The principal activity is not a single-asset real estate operation
The CARES Act further expanded the eligibility for businesses to qualify under this bankruptcy path.
This legislation increases the eligibility pool to also include companies with up to $7,500,000 in debt (both secured and unsecured) to reorganize under Subchapter V. This is a significant increase from the otherwise limit of $2,725,625.
Yes, as long as you meet the criteria above individuals may avail themselves of Subchapter V.
Subchapter V allows debtors to spread their unsecured debt over 3 to 5 years. During this time, the debtor must devote their disposable income toward the debt. This model usually aids both parties involved.
The debtors have time to pay their debts and can spread them across a more extended period to avoid large sums. The creditors benefit because there is less a chance of debtors defaulting on longer-term payments.
Administrative expenses differ from Subchapter V to Chapter 11 cases. Debtors must pay administrative costs at plan confirmation in Traditional Chapter 11 cases. Debtors can pay Subchapter V administrative expenses over the life of the plan.
For both, however, debts are not discharged until the debtor completes all of its planned payments.
If the principal debtor used his/her primary residence as security for a loan to fund the small business, there are available loan modifications.
If as part of your SBA loan, you pledged your primary residence as collateral, neither Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy will likely help in the event of default. However, Chapter 11 Subchapter V may help.
For instance, a small business debtor's plan may modify the rights of a holder of a claim secured by the principal residence of the debtor if the new value received in connection with the granting of the security interest was:
- not used primarily to acquire the real property; and
- used primarily in connection with the debtor's small business
Therefore, you could possibly use the Chapter 11 Subchapter V to save your house and modify the terms of repaying the loan if you pledged your house as collateral as part of your personal guarantee. You will, more than likely, not rid yourself of the lien. Preserving your home constitutes your goal with the new bankruptcy code. If you have no other options, you should explore the new bankruptcy option.
The new Chapter 11 Subchapter V bankruptcy has many differences from a regular Chapter 11. For instance, some of the changes are as follows:
- Plan easier to confirm
- Only debtor can file plan
- Disclosure statement not required
- Contested plan may be confirmed over objecting impaired class
- Absolute priority rule not applicable
- No creditors committee
- No quarterly U.S. Trustee payments
These changes will result in faster and thus less expensive reorganizations for small business.
Creditors' committees commonly occur in traditional Chapter 11 cases, but they need a cause in Subchapter V cases.
Subchapter V trustees' primary function is to create a standard plan with the debtor and creditor. They do have the authority to audit the debtor's finances, but their primary purpose is mediation.
The reason for this is Congress sees impartial third-parties' increasing the likelihood of a sound resolution among the debtor and its creditors. Unbiased third parties are especially useful for small businesses whose creditors are tentative as a result of COVID.
Filing fees with the court may vary but as of the time of this writing the filing fees are $1,738.
Attorneys' fees will vary on the complexity of your case but will be in the $15,000 to $25,000 range in most cases.
Under a regular Chapter 11, attorneys' fees were usually a minimum of $50,000.
Subchapter V debtors must file their reorganization plan within 90 days of entering bankruptcy.
If the debtor cannot commit to a reorganization plan within 90 days, the debtor may file an extension plea. The bankruptcy court decides on whether to approve or deny the extension plea.
Approval of the plan will depend on whether any creditors object and the court's own calendar.