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The National Bankruptcy Law.
DEFINITIONS. SECTION 1. Meaning of Words and Phrases.-a The words and phrases used in this act and in proceedings pursuant hereto shall, unless the same be inconsistent with the context, be construed as follows: (1) “A person against whom a petition has been filed” shall include a person who has filed a voluntary petition; (2) “adjudication” shall mean the date of the entry of a decree that the defendant, in a bankruptcy proceeding, is a bankrupt, or if such decree is appealed from, then the date when such decree is finally confirmed; (3) "'appellate courts” shall include the circuit courts of appeals of the United States, the supreme courts of the Territories, and the Supreme
1 Art. I, 98 of the U. S. Const. authorizes Congress ''to establish uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States.” This provision bas been interpreted as vesting in Congress the power to enact laws whereby an insolvent's property may be distributed among his creditors and the insolvent discharged from his obligations (In re Klein, 1 How. [U. S.) 227). The laws must not only be uniform as to their operation (In re Silverman, 4 B R 523; in re Reiman & Friedlander, 11 B. R. 21; Leidigh Carriage Co. v. Stengel (C. C. A.). 1 N. B. News, 296, 387; s. C. 95 Fed. Rep. 637), but they must be established throughout the United States (Sturgis v. Crownisheild, 4 Wheat. [U S.] 193). One which withholds from artificial persons privileges bestowed upon natural persons is not thereby characterized by a want of uniformity, the members of the corporation being individually at liberty to take full advantage of the law (Leidigh Carriage Co. v. Stengel, supra). To establish uniformity, bankruptcy acts must be liberally construed (Norcross v. Nathan et al. [D. C.), 99 Fed. Rep. 414).
When national bankrupt laws are so established, they operate throughout the United States to the exclusion of state laws on that subject (Sturgis v. Crownisheild, supra; Baldwin v. Hale, 1 Wall. [U. S.), 222; Parmenter Mfg. Co. v. Hamilton (Mass.), 1 N. B. News, 8; s. c. 1 Am. B. R. 39; in re Gutwillig [D. C), 90 Fed. Rep. 475: 92 Fed. Rep. 33; in re Brush-Ritter Co. [D. C.], 90 Fed. Rep. 651; in re McMillan & Co. [D. C), 1 N. B. News, 41; in re Bank of Waverly (D. C.), 1 N. B. News, 41; in re Sievers [D. C.], 91 Fed. Rep. 366; Lea Bros. et al. v. West Co. [D. C.], 91 Fed. Rep. 237: Victor v. Lewis [N. Y.), 1 N. B. News, 104, 240; in re Etheridge Furniture Co. (D. C.], 92
Court of the United States; (4) "bankrupt" shall include a person against whom an involuntary petition or an application to set a composition aside or to revoke a discharge has been filed, or who has filed a voluntary petition, or who has been adjudged a bankrupt; (5)
clerk” shall mean the clerk of a court of bankruptcy; (6) “corporations” shall mean all bodies having any of the powers and privileges of private corporations not possessed by individuals or partnerships, and shall include limited or other partnership associations organized under laws making the capital subscribed alone responsible for the debts of the association; (7) “court" shall mean the court
Fed. Rep. 329; in re McKee (D. C.], 1 N. B. News, 139; in re Spencer (D. C.). i N. B. News, 154; in re Kletchka (D. C)92 Fed. Rep. 901; in re Curtis et al. [C. C. A.), 91 Fed. Rep. 737; in re Agins (C. C.), i N. B. News, 133, 180; Davis v. Bohle et al. [C. c. A.), 1 N. B. News, 216; s. c. 92 Fed. Rep 325; in re Fellerath (D. C.), 95 Fed. Rep. 121; in re Houston [D. C.), 94 Fed. Rep. 119; in re Smith et al. [D. C., Ind.), 92 Fed. Rep. 135; in re Smith [D. C., Ky.), I N. B. News 61; in re Taylor (D. C.), 95 Fed. Rep. 956). The reasoning can be traced to Art. 1, $10 of the Federal Constitution, which enjoins the States from passing laws that impair the obligation of contracts. It is safe to say, though there is a judicial leaning to the contrary (Sturgis v. Crownisheild, supra; Baldwin v. Hale, supra; Cook v. Moffat, 5 How. [U. S.), 308; Boyle v. Zacharie, 6 Pet. (U. S.), 643; Ogden v. Saunders, 12 Wheat. 213; Clay v. Smith, 3 Pet. [U. S.], 411), that a State can at no time enact a valid bankrupt law, for to do so, the law must embrace two objects, the sequestration and distribution of one's property and the release of his debts (See Sto. Const. $1390). The second of these is an impairment of contracts, and a violation of the Federal Constitution, whether the contracts so impaired exist between citizens of the same or different states.
A Federal bankrupt law will not, ipso facto, supersede State laws that have for their object the collection of debts (Chandler v. Siddle, 10 B. R. 236; s. C., 3 Dill. [C. C.), 477), State laws relating to the insolvent estates of lunatics, spendthrifts, or deceased persons (Hawkins v. Learned, 54 N. H. 333; Mayer v. Hillman, 91 U. S., 262), State insolvent laws which merely protect the person from imprisonment (Sullivan v. Haskell, Crabbe [D. C.), 525; S. C., 4 Penn. L. J. 171), nor State laws regulating assignments for the benefit of creditors, which make no attempt to release unsatisfied obligations (Cook v. Rogers, 31 Mich., 391; s. C., 14 Am. L. Reg. 603; in re Sievers (D. C.), 1 N. B. News, 60; S. c. 91 Fed. Rep. 366; s. c. 1 Am. B. R. 117). If, however, the operation of these laws results in the creation of a preference, or works substantial injury to the creditors of an insolvent, the Federal law will be construed as paramount to or superseding the State laws, and the bankruptcy court will intercede to such an extent and with such process as will best protect the creditors (in re Gutwillig, supra; Blake, Moffit & Towne v. Francis-Valentine Co. (D. C.), 1 N. B. News, 47, 104; s. C. 89 Fed Rep. 691; in re Summers [D. C.), 1 N. B. News, 60; in re Smith, supra; in re Spencer, supra; in re Kletchka, supra; in re Pittlekow [D. C.), i N. B. News, 234; S. c. 92 Fed. Rep. 901).
1 See notes to Section 4 b.
may include the referee; (8) “courts of bankruptcy” shall include the district courts of the United States and of the of bankruptcy in which the proceedings are pending, and Territories, the supreme court of the District of Columbia, and the United States court of the Indian Territory, and of Alaska; (9) “creditor" shall include anyone who owns a demand or claim provable in bankruptcy, and may include his duly authorized agent, attorney, or proxy; (10) “date of bankruptcy,” or “time of bankruptcy,” or “commencement of proceedings,' or “bankruptcy, with reference to time, shall mean the date when the petition was filed; (11) "debt" shall include any debt, demand, or claim provable in bankruptcy; (12) "discharge” shall mean the release of a bankrupt from all of his debts which are provable in bankruptcy, except such as are excepted by this act; (13) “document” shall include any book, deed, or instrument in writing; (14) "holiday" shall include Christmas, the Fourth of July, the Twentysecond of February, and any day appointed by the President of the United States or the Congress of the United States as a holiday or as a day of public fasting or thanksgiving; (15) a person shall be deemed insolvent within the provisions of this act whenever the aggregate
1 Under the bankruptcy Act of 1867, one was ''insolvent" if he were unable to pay his debts in the ordinary course of business. That he might be able to pay them at some future time, upon a settlement and winding up of his business, did not relieve him from the condition (Sawyer v. Turpin, 91 U. S. 114; S. C. 13 R. R. 71; Wager v. Hall, 16 Wall. [U. S.) 584; Toof v. Martin, 13 Wall. [U. S.] 40; S. C. 6 B. R. 49; Hardy v. Clark, 3 B. R. 385: Hardy v. Binninger, 7 Blatch. 262; s. c. 4 B. R. 262; in re Williams, 1 Lowell, 406; s. c. 3 B. R. 286. See also for comparison in re Woods, 7 B. R. 126; in re Oregon Ptg Co., 13 B. R. 503; in re Randall & Sutherland, 3 B. R. 18; s. c. Deady. 557; in re Wells, 3 B. R).
The "ordinary course of business" above referred to does not mean an inability to turn out goods, or bills receivable, or assets or securities to pay one particular debt, leaving other debts which are certain to become due unprovided for, but the ability to pay one debt as it becomes due, or as usually paid by traders, without jeopardizing others that may fall due (Driggs v. Morse, 3 B. R. 602; s. c. 1 Abb. C. C. 440; in re Dibble et al., 2 B. R. 617; s. C. 3 Benn. [D. C.) 283. See also Curran v Munger, 4 B. R. 295; s. c. 6 B. R. 33; Miller v. Keyes, 3 B. R. 224; Farran v. Crawford, 2 B. R. 602; in re Or. Prtg. Co., 13 B. R. 503; s. c. 3 Cent. Low J. 595; in re Ryan, 2 Sawy. [C. C.] 411; in re Craft, 1 B. R. 378; S. c. 6 Blatchf. [C. C.] 177).