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H.R. 5174 (98th): Bankruptcy Amendments and Federal Judgeship Act of 1983

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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Jun 29, 1984.

(Conference report filed in House, H. Rept. 98-882) Bankruptcy Amendments and Federal Judgeship Act of 1984 - Title I: Bankruptcy Jurisdiction and Procedure - Confers upon the district courts original and exclusive jurisdiction of all cases under title 11 (the Bankruptcy Code). Confers original, but not exclusive, jurisdiction upon the district courts of all civil proceedings arising under title 11 or arising in or related to cases under title 11. Authorizes district courts to refer all cases and civil proceedings arising under title 11 to the bankruptcy court for the district. Confers upon such bankruptcy court all jurisdiction granted the district courts for title 11 actions and proceedings. Authorizes district courts to withdraw certain actions previously referred to bankruptcy courts. Allows district courts to abstain from hearing a particular proceeding under title 11, and precludes appeals from such decisions. Requires the district court to abstain, upon proper motion, from adjudicating claims based upon State law where such claims will be timely instituted in an appropriate State forum. Authorizes district courts to exercise jurisdiction over all the debtor's property, wherever located, and over the bankruptcy estate. Sets venue guidelines for: (1) cases and proceedings under title 11; (2) cases to enjoin actions in a State or Federal court; and (3) actions to enjoin liens against property in such courts. States that nothing in the Bankruptcy Code affects any right to trial by jury under nonbankruptcy law regarding personal injury or wrongful death tort claims. Delineates procedures for removal of bankruptcy cases by a party. Authorizes courts to remand cases which have been so removed, and precludes any appeal of a remand decision. Designates bankruptcy courts for each judicial district. States that such courts shall constitute a department of the district court and be comprised of bankruptcy judges in regular active service. Requires the United States court of appeals for a circuit to appoint the bankruptcy judges for each judicial district within such circuit. Sets forth provisions for: (1) official duty stations of bankruptcy judges; (2) removal procedures for such judges; (3) salaries; (4) outside employment; (5) division of business; (6) appointment of chief bankruptcy judgeships; (7) temporary transfers of bankruptcy judges; and (8) court personnel. Enumerates core proceedings arising under title 11 which a bankruptcy court may hear. Sets a procedure under which a bankruptcy court may serve as a special master to a district court in non-core proceedings. Specifies conditions for withdrawal of cases by a district court from a bankruptcy court. Confers jurisdiction upon the district courts to hear appeals from bankruptcy court judgments and establishes appellate procedure. Sets standards for bankruptcy judge salaries and terms of office. Extends the terms of judges serving on the date of enactment of this Act until October 1, 1986, or four years after their last appointments, whichever is earlier. Permits a bankruptcy judge serving on a part-time basis on the date of enactment of this Act to continue to serve on such basis for a period not to exceed two more years. Declares that a bankruptcy judge whose term of office is extended by this Act shall be deemed, during such term of office, to be appointed pursuant to this Act as a judicial officer of the district court involved. Makes technical and conforming amendments. Provides for annuities for certain bankruptcy judges. Provides criteria for filling vacant bankruptcy judgeships. Title II: Judgeships - Enumerates additional Article 3 circuit and district judgeships for the States. Prohibits the appointment of more than 11 circuit court judges or more than 29 district court judges before January 21, 1985. Establishes retirement and annuity guidelines for judges holding office during good behavior. Outlines retirement and resignation criteria for bankruptcy judges, including retirement pay and salary upon resignation. Confers upon the district courts jurisdiction of appeals from final and interlocutory judgments and decrees of bankruptcy courts. Authorizes the Judicial Council of a circuit to establish bankruptcy appellate panels to exercise appellate jurisdiction for any judicial district within the circuit. Provides for bankruptcy judges to constitute such panels and for such judges to be designated by the chief judge of the circuit. Confers upon the courts of appeals the jurisdiction of appeals from all final dispositions of either a district court or a bankruptcy appellate panel. Sets the maximum salary of a magistrate or bankruptcy judge at $63,600 per year. Prohibits annual increases without express authorization by law. Title III: Amendments to Title 11 of the United States Code - Subtitle A - Consumer Credit Amendments - Amends the Bankruptcy Code to prohibit any individual from being a debtor under such title who has been a debtor in a case pending any time in the preceding 180 days if: (1) the case was dismissed for failure to abide by orders of the court; or (2) the debtor requested and obtained a voluntary dismissal of the case following the filing of a request for relief from the automatic stay. Requires the court clerk, prior to the commencement of a bankruptcy case by an individual whose debts are primarily consumer debts, to give written notice to such individual that indicates each chapter of such title under which the individual may proceed. Declares that dismissal of a bankruptcy case does not prejudice the debtor with regard to the filing of a subsequent bankruptcy petition. Permits any individual injured by any willful violation of a stay to recover actual damages, including costs and attorneys' fees, and, in appropriate circumstances, punitive damages. Requires an individual debtor whose schedule of assets and liabilities includes consumer debts secured by property of the estate to file a statement with the court clerk concerning retention or surrender of such property. Prohibits debtors who are husband and wife and whose estates are ordered to be jointly administered from each electing to exempt certain property from different alternative property groupings. Sets forth provisions in case the parties cannot agree on the alternative to be elected. Limits exemptions for property held primarily for the personal, family, or household use of the debtor to $4,000 in aggregate value. Limits the exemption for a debtor's aggregate interest in real or personal property to $3,750. Allows an exception to a discharge from any: (1) consumer debt owed to a single creditor and aggregating more than $500 for "luxury goods or services" incurred by an individual debtor on or within 40 days before the order for bankruptcy relief; or (2) cash advances aggregating more than $1,000 that are extensions of consumer credit under an open end credit plan obtained on or within 20 days before the order for bankruptcy relief. Requires a creditor to pay costs if the court finds in favor of the debtor where such creditor requested a determination of dischargeability of a debt, the debt is discharged, but the court finds that the creditor's position is not substantially justified. Provides that a discharge in a bankruptcy case does not operate as an injunction against an action to recover property of the debtor. Requires an agreement concerning a dischargeable debt between a holder of a claim and the debtor to contain a clear and conspicuous statement advising the debtor that the agreement may be rescinded at any time prior to discharge or within 60 days after the agreement is filed with the court, whichever occurs later. Declares that no such agreement prevents a debtor from voluntarily repaying any debt. Prohibits employment discrimination or termination because of any bankruptcy action. Permits a bankruptcy court to dismiss a case filed by an individual debtor whose debts are primarily consumer debts if it finds that the granting of bankruptcy relief would be a substantial abuse of the bankruptcy provisions. Terminates the stay of action by a creditor against a codebtor 20 days after the filing of a request for relief unless the debtor (or codebtor) files and serves upon the creditor a written objection to the taking of the proposed action. Permits the court to convert a chapter 13 (adjustment of debts of an individual with regular income) to a chapter 7 (liquidation) bankruptcy case for failure to commence timely payments. Prohibits a plan for the repayment of debts from discriminating unfairly against any class of unsecured claims, but permits such plan to treat differently from other unsecured claims any claims for a consumer debt of the debtor if an individual is liable on such consumer debt with the debtor. Prohibits the court from approving a repayment plan if the trustee or the holder of an allowed unsecured claim objects to the confirmation of the plan, unless certain conditions are met as of the plan's effective date. Requires the debtor, unless the court orders otherwise, to commence making the payments proposed by a plan within 30 days after the plan is filed. Permits modification of the plan at any time after confirmation but before the completion of payments. Amends the Bankruptcy Rules to require the court to give the trustee and all creditors notice by mail of the order for relief not more than 20 days after the entry of such order in a voluntary case commenced under the Bankruptcy Code by an individual debtor whose debts are primarily consumer debts. Revises the Official Bankruptcy Form No. 1 concerning individual debts that are primarily consumer debts. Subtitle B - Amendments Relating to Grain Storage Facility Bankruptcy - Establishes priority in bankruptcy cases for allowed unsecured claims of individuals engaged in the production or raising of grain against a debtor who owns or operates a grain storage facility for grain or the proceeds of grain, to the extent of $2,000 for each such individual. Grants the same priority to the allowed unsecured claims of a U.S. fisherman against a debtor-operator of a fish produce storage or processing facility which has bought or converted the claimant's fish produce. Subjects certain rights and powers of the trustee, in the case of a seller who is a producer of grain sold to a grain storage facility, owned or operated by the debtor, in the ordinary course of such producer's business, to any statutory or common-law right of such producer to reclaim such grain if the debtor has received the grain while insolvent. Permits a bankruptcy court to expedite the procedures for the determination of interests in and the disposition of grain and proceeds of grain held by debtors who own or operate grain storage facilities. Allows the shortening of time periods applicable for such procedures and establishment of a timetable for the completion of certain procedures. Permits such time periods and timetable to be modified by the court for good cause shown. Sets forth the criteria by which such time periods may be shortened and the procedures which may be expedited. Requires notice to any appropriate regulatory governmental unit of any request made or ordered into for expedited determinations of interest. Requires the trustee to consult with such governmental unit before taking any action relating to the disposition of grain in the control of the debtor or the estate. Permits the court to extend the final disposition period for grain or proceeds of grain if the court finds that certain conditions exist. Declares that unless such an order is stayed pending appeal, the reversal or modification on appeal of an order establishing an expedited procedure or determining any interest in or approving any disposition of grain or its proceeds does not affect validity. Prohibits the court or the trustee from delaying any other proceeding in the particular case on account of the appeal. Permits the trustee to recover from grain and proceeds of grain the reasonable and necessary costs and expenses attributable to preserving and disposing of grain or its proceeds, but the trustee may not recover any other costs or expenses. Subtitle C - Leasehold Management Amendments - Leasehold Management Bankruptcy Amendments Act of 1983 - Requires a trustee in bankruptcy to perform all of the obligations of a tenant arising from an order for bankruptcy relief under an unexpired nonresidential lease (including payment of the rent and other charges specified in the lease) until such lease is assumed or rejected. Permits the court to extend the time for performance of any obligation of rent or other charges due upon an unexpired lease. Declares that acceptance of such performance shall not constitute a waiver or relinquishment of the lessor's rights under the lease or under this Act. Imposes a 60 day limit (with additional time, if the court so orders) on a trustee's acceptance or rejection of an unexpired lease in certain bankruptcy cases, after which time the lease will be deemed rejected. Allows acceptance or rejection up to the time a trustee plan is confirmed in other cases. Requires the trustee to assure that an assignee of such a lease has a financial standing similar to the original tenant's at the time of execution of the lease. Revises the condition that assignment or assumption of the lease not cause a substantial disruption of any tenant mix in the center by deleting the qualifier "substantial". Permits the lessor, if an unexpired lease is assigned pursuant to this Act, to require a deposit or other security for the performance of the obligations under the lease. Declares that the property of the estate does not include the debtor's interest in property under a nonresidential lease which has expired by virtue of its own terms without regard to the bankruptcy proceedings. Subtitle D - Amendments to Title 11, Section 523 Relating to the Discharge of Debts Incurred by Persons Driving While Intoxicated - States that a debtor shall not be discharged from a judgment debt resulting from a liability based upon driving while legally intoxicated. Subtitle E - Referees Salary and Expense Fund - Referees Salary and Expense Fund Act of 1983 - Amends the Federal bankruptcy laws to apply a $200,000 ceiling to fees from the referees' fund for any reorganization case pending after September 30, 1979. Sets a $100,000 ceiling to fees from the referees' fund for any such case whose plan was confirmed before September 30, 1979, but whose fees were not determined until after that date. Requires, after September 30, 1979, that all fees collected for payment into the referees' salary and expense fund be collected and paid into the general fund of the Treasury and that any balance in the fund on such date be transferred to the Treasury and the fund closed. Subtitle F - Amendments Regarding Repurchase Agreements - Exempts repurchase agreements from the automatic stay in bankruptcy proceedings, except where such an order is authorized under certain provisions of the Securities Investor Protection Act of 1970 or any law administered by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Subtitle G - Amendments to Title 11, Section 365 of the United States Code to Provide Adequate Protection for Timeshare Consumers - Grants the holder of a timeshare interest a lien against the debtor's estate if the contract rights under the timeshare plan are terminated by the trustee. Allows the holder to treat a trustee's rejection of the plan as a termination of the contract. Subtitle H - Miscellaneous Amendments to Title 11 - Makes technical amendments to the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978. States that neither the original filing of an involuntary petition nor the granting of an order of relief may be based solely on debts that are the subject of a good-faith dispute between debtor and creditor. Amends the definition of a "security" under title 11, which includes only securities registered under the Securities Act of 1933, to include any security which should be so registered. Revises definitions with respect to forward contracts. Increases the compensation payable to trustees. States that a bankruptcy petition shall operate as a stay of the presentation of a negotiable instrument. Requires notification by the trustee if so required by the Clayton Act. Establishes the burden of proof in having to use, sell, or lease property. Sets forth limitations on the reconsideration of claims. Limits the amount of claims for wages, contributions to employee benefit plans, deposits, or taxes which is entitled to priority. Requires the debtor to file a schedule of equity interests along with the assets and liabilities. Removes the debtor's exemption of property interests held in joint tenancy. Permits the debtor to avoid a transfer or recover a setoff of property and exempt such property if such transfer is voidable or recoverable by the trustee, whether or not the trustee attempts to do so, subject to specified limitations. Removes the permissible discharge from debt, alimony or support which has been assigned to another entity. Makes nondischargeable: (1) any debt for child support ordered by a court (regardless of whether the debtor parent was ever married to the child's other parent); and (2) any such debt assigned to Federal, State, or local government. Prohibits a creditor from obtaining a setoff which was transferred for such purpose. Prohibits the avoidance of certain transfers by the debtor. Permits the debtor to redeem property pursuant to an agreement based on a dischargeable debt. Requires the trustee to transfer commodity contracts that are being actively traded, if feasible. Prohibits paying a customer net equity claim based on a proprietary account unless all other such claims have been paid in full. Allows representation of more than one creditor of the same class by a committee. Gives the governmental unit concerned the burden of proof that the principal purpose of a plan is the avoidance of taxes. Requires the trustee to dispose of monies received in cases involving the debts of an individual with regular income. Authorizes the trustee to call a meeting of creditors in such cases. (There is no Subtitle I) Subtitle J - Collective Bargaining Agreements - Amends the Bankruptcy Code to permit the debtor in possession or the trustee if one has been appointed, except in specified cases, to assume or reject a collective bargaining agreement only in accordance with the provisions of this subtitle. Requires the debtor in possession or the trustee, subsequent to filing a petition and prior to filing an application seeking rejection of a collective bargaining agreement, to: (1) make a proposal to the authorized representative of the employees covered by such agreement which provides for modifications in the employees' benefits and protections that are necessary to permit the reorganization of the debtor and assures that all creditors, the debtor and all of the affected parties are treated fairly and equitably; and (2) meet at reasonable times with the authorized representative to confer in good faith in attempting to reach mutually satisfactory modifications of such agreement. Permits the court to approve an application for rejection of a collective bargaining agreement only if the court finds that certain conditions have been met. Prescribes procedures and deadlines. States that no provision of this subtitle shall be construed to permit a trustee unilaterally to terminate or alter any provisions of a collective bargaining agreement before compliance with this subtitle. Subtitle K - Miscellaneous - Prescribes a formula for computing the annuity of any individual who served as a U.S. bankruptcy judge for the District of Oregon or for the Central District of California until March 31, 1984. Sets forth the effective dates for the amendments made by this Act.