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Qualification of the Debtor





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The determination of which entities are eligible to be subjected as debtors to a country's general insolvency law is an important threshold issue and has important implications for a country's economy. For example, if the law excludes certain entities, these entities will be neither subject to the discipline imposed by an effective insolvency regime nor able to take advantage of the protection it affords. At the same time, important policy considerations may lead countries to establish special insolvency procedures for natural persons or for certain regulated entities. However, the exclusion of an enterprise from any form of insolvency regime should be avoided.

Natural/Legal Persons

An insolvency law should generally define which entities are subject to its provisions. It may decide to treat legal entities separately from natural persons, either through different statutes or through different chapters within the same statute. This separate treatment may arise for a number of reasons, including public policy concerns regarding consumer protection. Since this report is primarily concerned with the insolvency law's treatment of those actors that have the greatest impact on the country's economy, it does not express a preference as to whether natural persons should be subject to a special regime or the design of such a regime.

Government-Related Entities

It is universally recognized that sovereign nations are not subject to any insolvency law, international or national. Local government entities, such as municipalities, may be excluded from the scope of the insolvency law altogether or the law may establish a special regime for them.2While the treatment of government-owned entities may also vary, there appears to be no reason why such an enterprise operating in the market place as a distinct entity should be excluded from the coverage of the general insolvency law unless the government has extended an explicit guarantee with respect to all its liabilities. As discussed in Chapter 2, the inclusion of a government-owned enterprise within the scope of the insolvency law has the advantage of both subjecting the enterprise to the discipline of the market place and sending a clear signal that government financial support will not be unlimited.

Financial Institutions and Other Regulated Entities

An insolvency law may exclude banks and insurance companies from the purview of general insolvency law on the grounds that the unique role played by these institutions in the economy and, in particular, the payments system merits a special regime. Whether financial institutions should be subject to a special insolvency regime and, if so, what the design of that regime should be is of critical importance to the IMF given its work in this area. For this reason, and as noted in Chapter 1, this issue will be the subject of a separate study. Countries may also wish to establish special regimes for other highly regulated entities, such as utility companies or, alternatively, may give the relevant regulatory agency a special role under the general insolvency law.

Foreign Debtors

Whether or not a debtor is owned by foreigners should not be a criterion for determining jurisdiction over insolvency proceedings. However, international insolvencies raise a number of complex jurisdictional issues, for the resolution of which international cooperation is necessary. On this cooperation, see the Appendix, which describes UNCITRAL's model law on cross-border insolvency.

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