This book explores the rapidly evolving law of individual insolvency. As consumer borrowing and spending play a greater and greater role in fueling worldwide economic growth, more and more countries are dealing with the casualties of the "democratization of credit" and the "open credit economy." This book explores the struggles that led to the implementation and continuous revision of consumer insolvency law throughout much of Europe in the 1990s and early 2000s. Drawing on both primary sources of formal law and empirical studies of the law in action, this book offers an overview of how the law of consumer "overindebtedness" has played out in the last two decades in the United States and Europe and where it appears to be headed today. While the focus here is on law and practice, the questions for discussion at the end of each chapter might spawn deeper theoretical and policy explorations of the ambivalent relationship of societies to their financially overextended consumers and the ambiguous state of contract law in the consumer context in the 21st century.
Chapter 1 sets the stage by introducing the challenges and methodology of a comparative approach to this area of the law. Chapter 2 explores the varying form and role of "credit counseling" and pre-bankruptcy negotiation with creditors in the various systems presented. Chapters 3 and 4 compare and contrast the form and function of the formal consumer insolvency systems in the United States, France, Germany, Austria, England & Wales, the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, and Luxembourg. This book is designed for use either in a comparative law course, using consumer insolvency systems to illustrate many of the challenges of comparative law analysis, or in a basic bankruptcy course, using a variety of European approaches and their development over time to enlighten and challenge students' appreciation of the operation of the U.S. system.
This book is part of the Comparative Law Series, edited by Michael L. Corrado, Arch T. Allen Distinguished Professor of Law, UNC School of Law.
"Each chapter is punctuated with thoughtful discussion questions that will spark debate about the merits of various countries' solutions to the problem of consumer debt." — Harvard Law Review
"Throughout the book Kilborn employs the welcoming tone of a seasoned and passionate educator, with a touch of humor, at the same time appealing to the sense of certainty that law students so often crave…Kilborn is to be congratulated." — The Law and Politics Book Review