American Bankruptcy Institute Update

September 6, 2005

In This Issue

Highlights

Find Disaster Relief Links on ABI’s Katrina Page

The ABI World homepage contains links to ways that members can assist victims of Hurricane Katrina [http://www.abiworld.org/katrina.html]. Listed are local legal charitable organizations, offers of office space donations, court links and messages from ABI members in the region. The site is updated daily.

Consumer Bankruptcy Association Calls for Delayed BAPCPA Implementation

The National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys’ (NACBA's) Board of Directors has voted unanimously to call on Congress to pass immediate legislation delaying the effective date for the new bankruptcy law until the effects of Katrina on the national economy can be measured and evaluated by policy-makers, a NACBA news release said today.

According to University of Maryland economic forecaster Peter Moreci, "The national consequences of Hurricane Katrina will be much broader than initially estimated by economists."

“As Katrina has illustrated in the most vivid manner, many American families face the very real prospect of being pushed over the financial edge by an unexpected event, such as a natural disaster, serious illness, layoff, divorce, or a dramatic rise in the price of consumer goods across the board,” NACBA said. “NACBA's message to Congress: “There couldn't be a worse time to impose a radical and untested bankruptcy law on all Americans than when millions of them will most need the fresh start that bankruptcy can give them.”

Senate Panels Eye Change To Pensions in Reconciliation

The field of pension legislation in the Senate is getting more crowded, as the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP) staff is readying a pension bill to be marked up Thursday, CongressDaily.com reported late today. That bill will join one that the Senate Finance Committee passed earlier this summer. Republican and Democratic staff spent much of the August recess hashing out details of the bill, with HELP Chairman Sen. Michael Enzi (R-Wyo) pushing for a bipartisan product. But pension legislation is almost certain to get caught up in budget-cutting efforts in both committees. The HELP bill likely will include a proposal to raise the regular insurance rates that companies pay the nation's pension insurer, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., from $19 to $30 per employee. But the committee might not be able to use the savings generated by increases in so-called variable rates that severely underfunded plans must pay.

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) also might move part of his bill in reconciliation, but that plan might run afoul of the Senate's "Byrd rule" prohibiting non-revenue provisions from reconciliation bills. Grassley's pension package includes such non-revenue items as rules to strengthen disclosure about the financial status of pension plans. Lawmakers and business groups pushing for a pension overhaul are aiming for quick action following the recess. A temporary fix that Congress passed last year expires at the end of this year, a factor that might spur the Senate to act on the bigger pension package despite the initial focus on budget cuts. But a crowded Senate floor schedule might prod lawmakers to try to attach as much pension legislation as possible to a reconciliation package, some aides noted. In the House, the Education and the Workforce Committee passed its pension bill in May, and the flat-rate pension premium provisions likely will wind up as part of that committee's reconciliation package, a committee spokesman said.

Aid for Asbestos Victims May Stall, Senator Says

Prospects for Senate passage this year of a proposal to compensate asbestos-exposure victims from a $140-billion fund were hurt by a report that the trust may not have enough money to pay all claims, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said. The Congressional Budget Office said that claims to the fund over a 50-year period would range from $120 billion to $150 billion, according to weekend wire service reports.

The report also warned that revenue the trust fund was to collect from companies "could be significantly less" than the $140 billion proposed in the legislation. The legislation aims to end lawsuits by asbestos-exposure victims that have forced 77 companies into bankruptcy court.

ABI’s Revamped Online Consumer Education Center Prepares Public for New Bankruptcy Law

ABI’s new and improved Consumer Education Center is up and running.

The user-friendly Consumer Education Center Website contains information critical to the decision-making process for consumers considering bankruptcy, including:

  • “Should I File for Bankruptcy?” – complete with the “Consumer Bankruptcy Checklist” of important considerations
  • Comprehensive bankruptcy FAQs that take the consumer from the decision-making process all the way through exiting bankruptcy
  • Links to pertinent resources, including major credit counseling organizations and a host of “financial literacy” sources
  • A directory of certified bankruptcy attorneys
  • An ABI-produced video program, “Taking Charge of your Finances,” on the basics of household budgeting and bankruptcy options

Check it out today!

“Best of Central States” Bankruptcy Conference Registration Now Open

The “Best of ABI” Webinar, “Preclusion Issues: Been There, Done That” will be held on September 21, 2005 , at 1:00 p.m. Central / 2:00 p.m. Eastern.

Among the featured presenters will be:

  • Hon. Susan Pierson Sonderby
    U.S. Bankruptcy Court
    Northern District of Illinois
    Chicago , Ill.
  • Timothy F. Nixon
    Godfrey & Kahn SC
    Green Bay , Wis.
  • Robert B. Millner
    Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, LLP
    Chicago , Ill.
  • Robert D. Gordon
    Clark Hill, PLC
    Detroit, Mich.

Click here to register!

The “Best of ABI” series brings the highest-rated sessions from each ABI conference right to your office. We provide a special Web interface for this program, allowing participants to interact online with presenters through Q&As, file-sharing and dynamic polling. ABI offers the latest distance learning technology in order to provide you with this innovative learning experience. CLE/CPE credit will be available in certain states.

London Calling: ABI’s International Insolvency Symposium

ABI’s first program in Europe, to be held September 23, 2005, in London, at the renowned Savoy Hotel, will bring together top international speakers to discuss new developments in international insolvency and restructuring. The event has attracted significant support from the industry’s leading professional firms in the United States and Europe.

Sir Gavin Lightman, Chancery Division High Court of Justice, London, will present the keynote address: Views from the Bench. Other symposium sessions will include International Forum Shopping, Hands Across the Pond: Identifying Best Practices, Restructuring Trends in Europe, and Managing an International Reorganisation.

Register today for this exciting international program.

ABI’s Winter Leadership Conference Now Open for Registration

Join ABI for the 17th Annual Winter Leadership Conference, December 1–3, 2005, in beautiful Indian Wells, Calif. at the Hyatt Grand Champions Resort and Spa, one of the Palm Spring area’s most luxurious hotels.

The program of 14 CLE credit hours (including 3 hours of ethics) features a faculty of renowned scholars, judges and practitioners from across the United States. A wide variety of committee educational sessions will be offered. Timely topics—all updated with the latest legislative revisions—include:

  • The Year in Review (other than legislation) and Emerging Issues for 2006
  • Solemn Promise or Past Sin? Implications of Pension Terminations
  • Pre-petition Sanctions, Contempt (Civil/Criminal), Penalties and Punitive Damages: Allowability and Enforceability
  • Ten Hints to Surviving the New Consumer Bankruptcy Law
  • A Gift by Any Other Name: Absolute Priority Rule after Armstrong World
  • New Realities for Financial Advisors under the New Law and Other Emerging Problems
  • Right Without a Remedy?: Individual and Small Business Chapter 11 under the New Code
  • Breakfast Educational Program: New Law in Practice
  • Ethics: Swearing Contest—Certifications of Information and Other Ethical Quandaries of the New Law
  • Ethics: Special Conflicts Counsel: Best Practice or Big Case Aberration

This year’s meeting will feature stand-up comedian Steve Bridges (a.k.a. “Mr. President”) and the all-ABI member rock-and-roll band, the Indubitable Equivalents. Optional events will include golf, tennis, The Living Desert, hot air ballooning, a Joshua Tree Jeep Eco-tour, off-road quad tours and a cooking class.

Register here!

Prepare for the Certification Exam

The new bankruptcy law provides that courts will take into account board certification when awarding attorney fees under Section 330. The American Board of Certification is offering its exams several times this fall. You can prepare for the exams with a handy and affordable CD-ROM prepared by board-certified ABI members. The CD includes materials on consumer bankruptcy, business bankruptcy, ethics and creditors’ rights. Sample exam questions and answers are also included. Member price is $195. “Buy Now!”

Latest Job Postings at ABI Career Center

Check out the ABI Career Center. The Center is a one-stop site for job seekers and employers in the insolvency community. Career Center resources are available free to both employers and job seekers. New positions are featured daily. The latest listings include: