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Personal Insolvency in the 21st Century

A Comparative Analysis of the US and Europe

By: Iain Ramsay
Media of Personal Insolvency in the 21st Century
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Published: 04-05-2017
Format: Hardback
Edition: 1st
Extent: 224
ISBN: 9781849468091
Imprint: Hart Publishing
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm
RRP: £65.00
Online price : £58.50
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About Personal Insolvency in the 21st Century

Since 1979 the world has witnessed a remarkable cycle of personal insolvency law reform. Changes in capitalist economies, financial crises and political interest groups all contributed to this cycle of reform. This book examines the role of interest groups and distinct narratives in shaping reform in different countries while drawing attention to the role of timing, path dependency and unintended consequences in the development of personal insolvency law.

The book presents case studies of personal insolvency law in the US, France, Sweden, and England and Wales. It then analyses how, following the Great Recession of 2008, international financial institutions paid greater attention to the significance of household debt in contributing to financial instability and the role of individual insolvency law in providing a fresh start. Personal insolvency law reform became part of EU responses to the eurozone crisis and the EU has proposed harmonisation of individual insolvency law to promote entrepreneurialism. This book examines the extent to which these developments represent an emerging international commonsense about personal insolvency and its relationship to neo-liberalism. Finally, this book discusses whether the international emergence of individual personal insolvency law represents a progressive step or a band-aid for the costs of neo-liberal policies, where a significant number of people live close to the precipice of over-indebtedness.

Table Of Contents

1. The Rise of Personal Insolvency Law
I. Introduction
II. Explanations for Stability and Change in Personal Insolvency Law
III. Household Debt, Neo-liberalism, and Personal Insolvency Law
IV. Summary
2. US Exceptionalism?
I. Introduction
II. The Challenge of the Wage Earner Debtor: The 1930s
III. The Wage Earner as Consumer Debtor: 1950s–1978
IV. Layering and Changing the Narrative: 1978–97
V. BAPCPA 2005-the Great Recession and the Future
VI. The Role of the State in US Bankruptcy Law
VII. Discussion
3. Drift, Conversion, and Layering: England and Wales
I. Introduction
II. The Players in English Personal Insolvency Reform
III. Drifting-the Sad Life of the English Administration Order
IV. Conversion: The Individual Voluntary Arrangement
V. Framing the Policy Response After the Enterprise Act: Borrowing Binges
VI. Relief for the Deserving Poor: The Debt Relief Order
VII. The Great Recession and Personal Insolvency Law
VIII. Discussion
4. France: Contingency, the Role of Narratives, and the New Droit Social
I. Introduction
II. Over-indebtedness Regulation in Context
III. The Development of the Over-indebtedness Regime
IV. Legitimating Narratives: From Active to Passive Debtor to...?
V. The Changing Institutional Landscape: Commissions, Courts, and the Law in Action
VI. Discussion
5. Sweden: The Quality of Mercy is Strained
I. Introduction
II. Swedish Regulation of the Consumer Credit Market
III. The Development of the Swedish Debt Restructuring System
IV. Who Accesses the Swedish Debt Restructuring System?
V. Debt Counselling and the 'Enabling Welfare State'
VI. The Five-Year Plan
VII. Protection Against Home Eviction and Mortgage Foreclosure
VIII. Discussion
6. After the Crisis: Towards an International 'Common Sense' in Personal Insolvency Law?
I. Introduction
II. International Initiatives: After the Great Recession
III. European Union Consumer Credit Policy and Personal Insolvency
IV. EU Personal Insolvency Policy after the Crisis
V. EU Narratives
VI. Bankruptcy Tourism, Regulatory Competition, and Regulatory Learning
VII. Towards a European Paradigm?
VIII. Conclusion
7. Conclusion: The Future of Personal Insolvency in the Twenty-First Century
I. Influential Interest Groups
II. Contemporary Narratives of Personal Insolvency
III. Technocracy and Democracy in Personal Insolvency Reform
IV. The Limits of Individual Insolvency?


“Ramsay ... makes a compelling case that research on personal insolvency law is important, by highlighting the growing prominence of the subject and the potential impact of research on the policy process. He also provides his readers with a smorgasbord of intellectual stimulants ... Ramsay has pointed the way towards fertile philosophical soil. His book is a lively and stimulating invitation to join him in tilling it.” –  Anna Lund, Faculty of Law, University of Alberta, Banking & Finance Law Review

“...Ramsay's book is one of the most informative accounts of the development of personal insolvency law and law-making in the past decades and the best socio-legal explanation of the driving forces behind legislative developments.” –  Jan-Ocko Heuer, Post-Doctoral Researcher, Humboldt University, International Insolvency Review

Personal Insolvency in the 21st Century is a must-read for anybody interested in insolvency and consumer credit. Scholars and students of the credit society, national and international institutions, and law will surely find this book insightful and inspiring as much as policy makers. It is not just an intelligent and much-needed analysis of personal insolvency law and reform but also an enjoyable read.” –  Irina Domurath, University of Amsterdam, Journal of Consumer Policy

“This succinct text represents an excellent analysis of the phenomenon of personal insolvency and the legal response to it across a range of jurisdictions... This monograph is a major contribution to scholarship and it has my fulsome recommendation.” –  David Milman, School of Law, University of Lancaster, Journal of International Banking Law and Regulation

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