Total commercial bankruptcy filings for the first three months of 2012 hit 15,833, a 19% drop from the 19,638 filings during the same period in 2011.
According to data provided to the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI) by Epiq Systems, Inc., the fall in commercial filings mirrored the overall decline in bankruptcies across the board. Total and noncommercial filings both decreased by 12% in the first quarter compared to the same period in 2011.
For trade creditors, the decline in bankruptcy filings has also been accompanied by a drop in collection issues, according to Lynnette Warman, Esq., a partner with Hunton & Williams, LLP. “The trade creditors I speak with confirm that they are experiencing fewer bankruptcy filings, and that for many, there are fewer collection issues,” she noted. “In fact, the number and amount of trade debts outsourced to collection agencies have also dropped over the past year.”
Much of the decline can be traced back to tightened credit conditions, both secured and unsecured, that gripped the trade during the recession. “As this occurred, some businesses failed fairly quickly after their bank lines were cut or unsecured credit reduced, ” said Warman. “Some of these closures were done through bankruptcy; other businesses just quietly closed their doors and their owners simply stopped doing business.”
While banks and sellers tightened credit across the board, the buyers simultaneously experienced a significant drop in their own income. “Many companies experienced a serious reduction in sales, which obviously led to fewer purchases on their part, thus less outstanding unsecured debt,” said Warman. “Businesses that have survived the past few years have had to cut expenses to survive, and should have less debt, both secured and unsecured, on their books.”
Warman will participate in four sessions at this year’s NACM Credit Congress in June, co-hosting the CCE Exam Review, serving as a panelist in the Legal Issues Executive Exchange session, and presenting two separate educational sessions. To find out more about this year’s program, or to register, click here.
Jacob Barron, CICP, NACM staff writer