Often referred to as “reorganization” bankruptcy, Chapter 11 bankruptcy is a legal process that allows businesses and individuals with large amounts of debt to reorganize their financial affairs. This chapter of the Bankruptcy Code is typically used by corporations, partnerships, and sole proprietorships to keep their businesses alive while paying off creditors over time.
When a business files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, it has two options: liquidation under Chapter 7 or reorganization under Chapter 11. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the business ceases operations, and its assets are sold off to pay off as much of the company’s debt as possible. On the other hand, Chapter 11 bankruptcy allows the debtor to remain “in possession,” continue operating its business, and propose a plan of reorganization to pay creditors over time.
To initiate a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the debtor must file a petition with the bankruptcy court serving the area where they have a domicile, residence, or principal place of business. The petition can be voluntary, filed by the debtor, or involuntary, filed by creditors that meet certain requirements. Along with the petition, the debtor must also submit various documents, such as their most recent balance sheet, statement of operations, cash-flow statement, and Federal income tax return.
Once the bankruptcy process begins, the court schedules an expedited hearing to address emergency motions related to the business and its bankruptcy. This hearing allows the business to request the court’s authority to undertake certain actions necessary for the normal course of operations, such as paying wages and benefits to employees, filing and paying taxes, or meeting contractual obligations like rent, insurance premiums, or vendor invoices.
There are several benefits to filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, including the ability to continue operating the business, proposing a plan of reorganization to pay off creditors, and having the court’s decisions binding on all creditors, even if they disagree with the decision. However, there are also downsides to Chapter 11 bankruptcy, such as loss of privacy, financial record-keeping and reporting requirements, profitability requirements, some loss of control over business operations, restrictions on compensation of debtor’s insiders, possible loss of shareholder control, and the cost of the process.
Chapter 11 bankruptcy can be a viable option for businesses struggling with insurmountable debts and liabilities. It allows them to reorganize their financial affairs and continue operating while paying off creditors over time. However, it is essential to weigh the pros and cons of this legal process before deciding whether to pursue Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
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