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Contact: John Hartgen

              Phone: 703-739-0800

              Email: jhartgen@abiworld.org

 

Total Bankruptcies Eclipse the 2 Million Mark in 2005 as Consumers File in Record Numbers Prior to Implementation of New Bankruptcy Law

March 24, 2006 Alexandria, Va. — Bankruptcy filings eclipsed the two million mark for the first time in the United States as 2,078,415 filings were reported in calendar year 2005, according to data from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. The total in this 12-month period ending December 31, 2005, represents a record 30 percent increase compared with the 1,597,462 total filings for the same period in 2004.

Driven largely in response to the passage of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA), consumers provided 98 percent of the overall total filings, the highest concentration of consumer filings on record, as nonbusiness filings during the 12-month period ending December 31, 2005, increased to a record 2,039,214, which was a 31 percent increase from the total of 1,563,145 of the same period in 2004. Business filings also increased to 39,201 for the 12-month period ending December 31, 2005, representing a 14 percent increase from the total of 34,317 from same period in 2004. This is the highest total of business bankruptcies in a calendar year since 2001’s total of 40,099.

“It is ironic that, at least in the short term, a law Congress hoped would reduce bankruptcies instead caused the largest upward spike in history,” said Samuel J. Gerdano, ABI Executive Director.  “Bankruptcies have in fact fallen dramatically so far in 2006 under the new, more-restrictive law,” he added.

The record high of 667,431 bankruptcies recorded during the 4th calendar quarter of 2005 (October 1-December 31, 2005), is representative of the many debtors who rushed to file prior to the Oct. 17 implementation date of BAPCPA. October 2005 filings alone totaled 630,497, representing 95 percent of the filings for the three-month period and 30 percent of the 12-month period ending December 31, 2005. Nonbusiness filings in October 2005 reached 619,588, which represented 30 percent of the nonbusiness filings for the 12- month period ending December 31, 2005, and 95 percent of the 654,633 total nonbusiness filings for the 4th quarter of 2005. The 10,909 October business filings were representative of 28 percent of the 12-month period ending December 31, 2005 business filings and 85 percent of the 12,798 business filings for the 4th quarter 2005.

Largely as a result of the BAPCPA, dramatic decreases in filings were seen during the months of November and December 2005 as the combined filings of 36,934 for those two months represented just 1.78 percent of the total 12-month period ending December 31, and 6 percent for the 4th quarter 2005. November’s total filings dropped to 14,324, which represented less than one percent (0.69%) of the total for the 12-month period ending December 2005 and 2 percent of the 4th quarter total. The total of 13,643 nonbusiness filings in November was representative of less than one percent of the total nonconsumer filings (0.67%) for the 12-month period ending December 31, 2005 and just 2 percent of the 4th calendar quarter nonbusiness filings. Business filings experienced a similar decline as the 681 filings in November represented less than 2 percent (1.74%) for CY2005 and 5 percent of the 2005 4th quarter’s total of 12,798. By comparison, 2004 totals for the month of November were 122,796 total filings, 2,643 business filings and 120,153 nonbusiness filings, each representative of nearly 8 percent of the 12-month total for their respective categories.

Total filings increased in December 2005 to 22,610, which represented a 63 percent increase over November total filings, but just over 1 percent of the 12-month period ending December 31, 2005 total (1.09%) and just over 3 percent (3.39%).for the 4th quarter 2005. December nonbusiness filings reached 21,402, representing just over one percent (1.05%) of the total nonbusiness filings for the 12-month period ending December 31, 2005, and only 3 percent of the 4th quarter 2005 nonbusiness filings. December business filings increased as well to 1,208, but only comprised 3 percent of the total business filings for the 12-month period and represented just over 9 percent of the 4th quarter total business filings. By comparison, 2004 totals for the month of December were 118,193 total filings, 2,493 business filings and 115,700 nonbusiness filings. Each was representative of just over seven percent of the 12-month total for their respective categories.

However, the 667,431 filings in the 4th quarter of 2005 (October 1-December 31, 2005) represent an 80 percent increase in comparison to the 371,668 filings for the same quarter of 2004 (October 1-December 31, 2004) and a 23 percent increase from the previous record total 542,002 from the 3rd quarter of 2005 (July 1- September 30, 2005).

Of the total number of bankruptcy filings in the 12-month period ending December 31, 2005, there were 1,659,017 chapter 7 filings, a 46 percent increase over the 1,137,958 chapter 7 filings for the same period in 2004. Chapter 7 filings also increased 33 percent from the 2005 third quarter from 429,299 to 570,355 in the 2005 fourth quarter.

The next-largest group of filings in the 12-month period ending December 31, 2005, was chapter 13 at 412,130, a 9 percent decrease from the 449,129 filings in the 12-month period ending December 31, 2004. CY2005 chapter 12 filings totaled 380, a 252 percent increase from the 108 filings in the 12-month period ending December 31, 2004. Reflecting the strong economy and low interest rates, chapter 11 filings fell from 10,132 in CY2004 to 6,800 in the 12-month period ending December 31, 2005, a 33 percent decrease.

BUSINESS FILINGS for the 3-month period ending December 31, 2005, totaled 12,798, a 64.54 percent increase from the 7,778 bankruptcy business cases filed in the same period in 2004. NONBUSINESS FILINGS for the 3-month period ending September 30, 2005, totaled 654,633, an 80 percent increase from the 363,890 total in the same quarter in 2004.

The chapter* breakdown of BUSINESS filings for the 3-month period ending December 31, 2005, is: 9,701 chapter 7s, 1,692 chapter 11s, 87 chapter 12s and 1,308 chapter 13s.

The chapter breakdown of NONBUSINESS filings for the 3-month period ending December 31, 2005, is 560,654 chapter 7s, 263 chapter 11s and 93,714 chapter 13s.

Districts with the Highest Percentage INCREASE in Total Filings for the 12-month period ending December 31, 2005 (compared to the identical period in 2004):

  1. District of Virgin Islands: 68.42%
  2. Northern District of Ohio: 57.47%
  3. Southern District of West Virginia: 57.02%
  4. District of North Dakota: 54.68%
  5. District of Vermont: 54.42%

Districts with the Highest Percentage DECREASE in Total Filings for the 12-month period ending December 31, 2005 (compared to the identical period in 2004):

  1. Southern District of Georgia: 9.79%
  2. Middle District of Georgia: 6.67%
  3. District of Puerto Rico: 0.82%
  4. District of South Carolina: 0.47% (Increase)
  5. Middle District of Tennessee: 4.19% (Increase)

More information will be available at  ABI’s Statistics Page,http://www.abiworld.org/statistics.

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ABI is the largest multi-disciplinary, nonpartisan organization dedicated to research and education on matters related to insolvency. ABI was founded in 1982 to provide Congress and the public with unbiased analysis of bankruptcy issues. The ABI membership includes more than 11,000 attorneys, accountants, bankers, judges, professors, lenders, turnaround specialists and other bankruptcy professionals providing a forum for the exchange of ideas and information. For additional information on ABI, visit www.abiworld.org. For additional conference information, visit http://www.abiworld.org/conferences.html.

*Definitions from Bankruptcy Overview: Issues, Law and Policy, by the American Bankruptcy Institute

Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code is available to both individual and business debtors. Its purpose is to achieve a fair distribution to creditors of the debtor’s available non-exempt property.  Unsecured debts not reaffirmed are discharged, providing a fresh financial start.  

Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code is available for both business and consumer debtors. Its purpose is to rehabilitate a business as a going concern or reorganize an individual’s finances through a court-approved reorganization plan.

Chapter 12 of the Bankruptcy Code is designed to give special debt relief to a family farmer with regular income from farming. 

Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code is available for an individual with regular income whose debts do not exceed specific amounts; it is typically used to budget some of the debtor’s future earnings under a plan through which unsecured creditors are paid in whole or in part.

 


 

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