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Bankruptcy is a legally declared inability or impairment of ability of an individual or organization to pay its creditors. Creditors may file a bankruptcy petition against a business or corporate debtor ("involuntary bankruptcy") in an effort to recoup a portion of what they are owed or initiate a restructuring. In the majority of cases, however, bankruptcy is initiated by the debtor (a "voluntary bankruptcy" that is filed by the insolvent individual or organization). An involuntary bankruptcy petition may not be filed against an individual consumer debtor who is not engaged in business.


  • Capitalism without bankruptcy is like Christianity without hell.
    • Frank Borman, Chairman of Eastern Airlines, reported in Journal of Business Education, Volume 58 (1982), p. 200.
  • It is said that the world is in a state of bankruptcy, that the world owes the world more than the world can pay, and ought to go into chancery, and be sold.
  • He who desireth to sleep soundly, let him buy the bed of a bankrupt.
    • English proverb, reported in Henry George Bohn, John Ray, A Hand-Book of Proverbs (1899), p. 19.
  • 'How did you go bankrupt?' Bill asked. 'Two ways,' Mike said. 'Gradually and then suddenly.'

The Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904)[edit]

Quotes reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, The Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 17.
  • Bankruptcy in my opinion ever was and yet is considered as a crime, whatever tradesmen may now think of it. It was anciently punished with corporal punishment.
    • Abney, J., Tribe v. Webber (1744), Willes, 466 n. (a).
  • Bankruptcy is considered as a crime, and the bankrupt in the old laws is called an offender: but it is a principle of natural justice, and of our law, that actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea.
    • Lord Kenyon, C.J., Fowler v. Padget (1798), 7 T. R. 514.
  • A man may be a bankrupt, and yet be honest, for he may become so by accident, and not of purpose to deceive his creditors.
    • Roll, C.J., Rooke v. Smith (1651), Style's Rep. 274.
  • The privileges of creditors to come in under a bankruptcy, and of bankrupts to be discharged, are co-extensive and commensurate.
    • Lord Hardwicke, Ex parte Groome (1740), 1 Atk. 115.
  • Taking out a commission of bankruptcy is a well-known mode of recovering a debt.
    • Bayley, J., Guthrie v. Fisk (1824), 3 B & C. 183.

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