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March Commercial Chapter 11 Filings Increase 38% Versus February 2022

April 06, 2022, 07:01 AM
Filed Under: Bankruptcy

The total 36,049 bankruptcy filings for March represented a 34 percent increase over the 26,993 filings during the previous month of February, according to data provided by Epiq Bankruptcy. Similarly, the 34,244 total noncommercial filings for March represented a 34 percent increase from the February 2022 noncommercial filing total of 25,565. The 1,805 total commercial filings in March represented a 26 percent increase from the 1,428 total commercial filings during the previous month. Commercial chapter 11 filings increased 38 percent in March to 292 from the 203 commercial chapter 11 filings in February. Small business filings, captured as subchapter V elections within chapter 11, increased 51 percent to 178 in March from 118 in February.

“March is typically the month with the largest number of new bankruptcy filings on an annual basis,” says Chris Kruse, senior vice president at Epiq. “We continue to watch closely the bankruptcy activity as we emerge from the global pandemic and expect a return to a more active market in the months to come.”

The 81 subchapter V elections filed during the week of March 21 represented the highest weekly total ever, eclipsing the previous record of 71 filed during the same week last year. The spike was in advance of the debt-eligibility limit returning from the expanded amount of $7.5 million first established under the CARES Act of 2020 to the original $2,725,625 threshold on March 28 established under the Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019. Due to priorities and procedural issues, the Senate was not able to address legislation prior to the March 27 sunset to permanently set the subchapter V eligibility limit at $7.5 million. Work on a substitute bill is underway on Capitol Hill to permanently restore the eligibility limit back to $7.5 million and cover any subchapter V cases that were pending at the time of the March 27 sunset. Consistent with the recommendations of ABI’s Commission on Consumer Bankruptcy, the substitute also continues to push for the debt limit for individual chapter 13 filings to be increased to $2.75 million and remove the distinction between secured and unsecured debt for that calculation.

“Amid rising interest rates, growing inflation concerns, worker shortages and supply chain challenges, access to bankruptcy is imperative for struggling consumers and businesses,” said ABI Executive Director Amy Quackenboss. “Congressional consideration of legislation permanently making both the expanded eligibility limits for small businesses electing to file for subchapter V under chapter 11, and consumers looking to access chapter 13, would give more families and small businesses the chance at a financial fresh start.”

For the first calendar quarter of 2022 (January 1-March 31), the 89,252 total bankruptcy filings represented a 17 percent decrease from the 107,043 total filings during the same period last year in the midst of the pandemic. Noncommercial filings also decreased 16 percent to 84,510 filings in the first quarter of 2022 from 100,682 noncommercial filings during the same period in 2021. Total overall commercial bankruptcies decreased 25 percent in the first quarter of 2022, as the 4,742 filings were down from the 6,361 commercial filings during the first quarter of 2021. Total commercial chapter 11 filings dipped 43 percent to 720 during the first calendar quarter of 2022 from the 1,272 total commercial chapter 11s during the same period in 2021. Subchapter V elections for small businesses increased slightly, as the 399 filings in Q1 2022 were up 8 percent from the 368 filed during Q1 2021.

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