CALIFORNIA BUSINESS CHAPTER 11
Bankruptcy & Reorganization

The Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019 & CARES Act

Subchapter V of the Bankruptcy Code (the “Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019”) was passed to make small business bankruptcies faster and less expensive.

On March 27, 2020, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) to aid U.S. businesses following the economic impact of COVID-19. The CARES Act amends Subchapter V, and is effective for cases commenced within the twelve months following March 27, 2020.

Temporary Increase in Debt Limit for Small Business Debtors

The CARES Act revised the definition of “small business debtor” to include a person engaged in commercial or business activities that has aggregate, non-contingent, liquidated, secured, and secured debts of not more than $7,500,000.  This is an increase from the previous amount of $2,725,625. As a result, businesses with debts of less than $7.5 million are eligible to file a Chapter 11 case under Subchapter V provided that 50% or more of those debts arose from business or commercial activities. The following are benefits available to small business debtors filing under Subchapter V.

Debtor as Exclusive Plan Proponent

A small business debtor is the only party which may propose a plan of reorganization.

A Plan can be Confirmed Without the Vote of Any Impaired Consenting

A plan can be confirmed without the acceptance of an impaired voting class, provided that the plan does not discriminate unfairly and is deemed “fair and equitable” as to each class of claims. “Fair and equitable” essentially means that the business commit all its projected disposable income to payments under the plan.

Streamlined Process

  • The reorganization plan must be filed within 90 days of the petition date and must include a brief history of the debtor’s business operations, a liquidation analysis, and projections relating to the debtor’s ability to perform under the plan. In order to obtain an extension of time to file the plan the debtor must show “the need for the extension is attributable to circumstances for which the debtor should not justly be held accountable.” 11 U.S.C. § 1189(b).
  • The requirement of filing a disclosure statement in conjunction with the plan is waived.
  • No later than 60 days after the bankruptcy filing, the Bankruptcy Court will hold a status conference to further the expeditious and economical resolution of a case under Subchapter V.
  • Unlike a regular Chapter 11 plan, Subchapter V does not require that administrative claims to be paid in full on the effective date of the plan and can instead be spread over a period of time.

Exemption from Absolute Priority Rule

Small business debtors are exempt from complying with the absolute priority rule, which mandates that general unsecured creditors be paid in full before equity owners of the debtors are entitled to retain their interests.

Exemption from US Trustee Fees & the Subchapter V “Standing Trustee”

Small business debtors are exempt under Subchapter V from paying the quarterly United States Trustee fees (the U.S. Trustee still receives compensation from each plan payment made). Subchapter V created a new type of trustee referred to as a Standing Trustee.  The Standing Trustee is different than a traditional Chapter 11 trustee, and serves a somewhat different role.  For example, the Standing Trustee has a more active role in developing a plan of reorganization with the debtor.  The Standing Trustee also performs traditional tasks such as collecting plan payments and disbursing payments pursuant to a confirmed plan. The trustee serves in a mostly supervisory role and is generally not involved in any operational aspects of the business.

Employment of Estate Professionals

Professional persons may be employed by a small business debtor even if they hold a pre-petition claim against the bankruptcy estate, as long as the professional is owed less than $10,000 prior to the date of the bankruptcy filing.

Mortgage Modifications

If a business owner pledged their residence as collateral to support their business, Subchapter V makes it harder for creditors to take away that residence. The small business debtor can modify a mortgage on a principal residence as long as the mortgage loan was not used primarily to acquire the residence.

SIGNIFICANT ADVANTAGES FOR BUSINESSES WITH LESS THAN $7.5M in DEBT

The CARES Act and Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019 have significantly increased the debt threshold to qualify as a small business debtor, as well as added a number of business-friendly measures, making it a powerful option for small businesses to take advantage of in light of the current crisis.

Authors: Kristina Iliopoulos and Brandon Anand

BUSINESS CHAPTER 11 LAW FIRM Bankruptcy & Reorganization Attorneys + Brokers + Business Strategists
An Adversary Proceeding (“AP”) is a full federal lawsuit, that is connected to a bankruptcy case, and in other ways similar to a normal lawsuit with discovery, motions and trial.   A Motion may be brought to request certain relief, and in other instances an AP is required.  Rule 7001 Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure (“FRBP”) lists several categories which require an AP and can’t be brought by motion, and then there are exceptions to these categories.  Anand Law handles APs on behalf of  both Plaintiffs and Defendants, including but not limited to, suits related to fraud/misrepresentation, violations of lending laws, wrongful foreclosure, breach of fiduciary duty, and willful and malicious injury. 
Rule 3007 of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure (“FRBP”) requires an objection to be “filed and served at least 30 days before any scheduled hearing on the objection or any deadline for the claimant to request a hearing.” In addition to the FRBP, the Local Rules must also be complied with.  The Local Bankruptcy Rules (LBR) also require 30 days notice.  See LBR 3007-1(b).  Each Judge also has their own so-called “Local Local Rules,” and compliance with these is also required.

An objection may be filed as a Motion or an Adversary Proceeding (“AP”), but compliance with other rules is required, and in certain instances an AP is required.  One such instance is “a proceeding to determine the validity, priority, or extent of a lien or other interest in property” (see FRBP 7001(2)).  

‘Cramming down’ refers to reducing the amount of the lien to the market value (i.e. removing the portion of the lien that is unsecured).  Liens that may be crammed down include mortgage, HELOC (home equity line of credit), HOA (Homeowners’ Association), and judgment.

Contact us today to discuss your situation.

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ANAND LAW is a business bankruptcy law firm composed of attorneys, business/financial strategists, and real estate brokers.   We are business bankruptcy attorneys that focus on the bottom line.  We represent businesses (including small business debtors under Subchapter V and single asset real estate debtors), in the cities and areas of Los Angeles, Pasadena, Arcadia, Burbank, La Canada Flintridge, Covina, West Covina, Downey, Santa Monica, Glendale, Eagle Rock, Hollywood, Atwater Village, Echo Park, Glassell Park, Loz Feliz, Silverlake, Highland Park, Boyle Heights, Hancock Park, Cheviot Hills, Koreatown, Miracle Mile, Mid City, Venice, Van Nuys, Encino, Studio City, Sherman Oaks, Panorama City, North Hills, West Hills, Thousand Oaks, Calabasas, Granada Hills, Long Beach, Glendora, Anaheim, Inglewood, Santa Ana, Beverly Hills, Pomona, Marina Del Rey, Playa Del Rey, Mar Vista, Culver City, Cheviot Hills, Holmby Hills, Westchester, El Segundo, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, Huntington Beach, Orange, Irvine, Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, Moorpark, and communities throughout Los Angeles, Orange, Santa Barbara, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, San Diego and Ventura Counties.

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