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Some easy to understand definitions of common bankruptcy terms to help you.

Absolute Discharge
The final step in bankruptcy proceedings, an absolute discharge is the release of the bankrupt from the legal obligation to pay back what is owed—with some exceptions—as of the date of the filing of the bankruptcy.

Act of Bankruptcy
An act committed by a debtor as defined under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. One of the most common is if a debtor ceases to meet his liabilities generally as they become due. A creditor with a provable claim of $1000 and over may file a petition for a receiving order if the debtor has committed such an act within the six months preceding the filing of the petition.

A person designated by the Superintendent of Bankruptcy, responsible for the administration of a consumer proposal under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.

A voluntary written declaration of facts affirmed or sworn under oath before an authorized officer such as a Notary Public or Commissioner of Oaths.

Arm’s Length
Describes dealings between two parties who, amongst other things, are not related by blood or marriage and are presumed to have roughly equal bargaining power.

Application for Bankruptcy Order
An application to a court of law made by creditors in order to put the debtor in bankruptcy.

In the context of bankruptcy it means all the property of the debtor available for distribution for the general benefit of creditors (available for paying debts).

Assignment in Bankruptcy
A voluntary assignment by an insolvent person of all of his property to a trustee for the general benefit of creditors.

Automatic Discharge
The final step in bankruptcy proceedings, a discharge is the release of the bankrupt from the legal obligation to pay back what is owed—with some exceptions—as of the date of the filing of the bankruptcy. When an automatic discharge occurs, the bankrupt doesn’t have to go to court for the proceedings to be finalized. This can happen only if the following conditions are met:

  • it is the first or second bankruptcy;
  • the bankrupt has not refused or neglected to receive counselling;
  • the bankrupt has made the payments from surplus income if and as required; and
  • the discharge is not opposed by the trustee in bankruptcy, a creditor or the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy.

A person who acts on behalf of any other person in the repossession or seizure of property

A natural person or corporation who has made a voluntary assignment in bankruptcy or against whom a receiving order has been made.

The state of being bankrupt or the fact of becoming bankrupt.

Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, a federal statute governing bankruptcy and insolvency in Canada, which is applicable to all provinces and territories.

Canadian Association of Insolvency and Restructuring Professionals is the national professional organization representing trustees in bankruptcy, receivers, agents, monitors and consultants in insolvency matters.

Canada Revenue Agency (formerly known as Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (“CCRA”)

Certificate of Full Performance of Proposal
A document issued by the trustee or administrator once a debtor has fully performed his or her obligations under the proposal.

An encumbrance, lien or financial obligation attached to property.

Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act.

Chartered Insolvency and Restructuring Professional; a professional designation given by CAIRP to those who meet the Association’s standards for admission, complete the prescribed course of study and pass the required examinations.

A statement by a creditor that he or she is owed money by a person

Property that is pledged as security against a debt.

Conditional Discharge
The final step in bankruptcy proceedings, a discharge is the release of the bankrupt from the legal obligation to pay back what is owed—with some exceptions—as of the date of the filing of the bankruptcy. A conditional discharge occurs when the Court imposes certain conditions that must be met before a person’s discharge becomes absolute. For example, the Court may require the debtor to pay an amount to the trustee in bankruptcy for distribution to creditors.

Conditional Sale
The sale of goods where the buyer receives possession of goods or property, but does not receive title to them until specific conditions are fulfilled.

Consolidation Order
In specific provinces, an order handed down by a provincial court to combine the debts of an insolvent person pursuant to the Orderly Payment of Debt Regulations in Part X of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.

Consumer Proposal
A simplified process to make a proposal for repayment of debt to creditors, available under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act to a consumer debtor whose aggregate debts, excluding any debts secured by the person’s principal residence, do not exceed the amount prescribed in the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.

Contingent Claim
A provable claim in bankruptcy that may or may not become a debt depending upon the result of some future event.

A legal entity (usually a business), distinct from its shareholders, which has the authority to act as a natural person.

A process under which services of a qualified counsellor are made available to assist and educate bankrupts and/or relatives of bankrupts, or consumer debtors, on good financial management, including prudent use of consumer credit and budgeting principles; in developing successful strategies for achieving financial goals and overcoming financial setbacks; and at any time, where appropriate, making referrals to deal with non-budgetary causes of insolvency (e.g.: gambling, addiction, marital and family problems, etc.).

One to whom a debt is owed; in insolvency matters, a person having a claim provable under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.

A specific sum of money due by agreement or otherwise.

One who owes money to another.

Deemed Trust
A trust established by statute. For example, income tax deducted at source as prescribed by the Income Tax Act is deemed to be held in trust for the Crown.

Failure to pay or perform a legal or contractual obligation.

Discharge From Bankruptcy
The release of a debtor from the obligation to repay his or her debts. A bankrupt’s discharge may be automatic, suspended, conditional or absolute. A bankrupt may also be refused discharge.

Automatic Discharge
A debtor whose discharge is not opposed by the Superintendent of Bankruptcy, the trustee or a creditor and who has not refused or neglected to receive counselling, is automatically discharged after 9, 21, 24 or 36 months, depending on whether it is a first or second bankruptcy. The discharge also depends on whether or not the bankrupt is required to pay a portion of his or her surplus income into the bankruptcy estate per the standard established by the OSB.

Order of Absolute Discharge
This official document issued by the court relieves the debtor of the debts incurred before the debtor declared bankruptcy, taking under consideration the exceptions provided in the Act.

Order of Conditional Discharge
The court may impose certain conditions that must be met before a person’s discharge becomes absolute. For example, the Court may require you to pay an amount to your trustee for distribution to your creditors.

Order of Suspended Discharge
The court orders a delay so that the discharge will not be effective until a certain date.

The proportional share of a bankrupt’s estate paid out by the trustee to creditors who have proven claims against that estate.

Duties of a Bankrupt
Obligations that must be performed by a bankrupt. For example, provide the trustee with a statement of the bankrupt’s affairs showing the particulars of his or her assets and liabilities, the name of all his creditors etc.

A claim or liability that is attached to property or some other right that may lessen its value, e.g. a lien or mortgage.

The difference between the market value of an asset and the secured debt against it.

All the property of a person; the file in bankruptcy

Questioning of the bankrupt under oath with respect to the bankrupt’s conduct, causes of bankruptcy and disposition of the bankrupt’s property. The examination may be conducted by an Official Receiver, a trustee, a creditor or other interested person in accordance with conditions prescribed in the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.

Exempt Asset
Assets defined as exempt by provincial legislation that are not available to the trustee for the benefit of creditors.

A legal process whereby a creditor requires a third party to turn over to the creditor, a debtor’s property such as wages or bank accounts.

General Rules
Rules created pursuant to the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act for the administration of this statute.

A person who takes on financial responsibility for another’s debt.

A right on property given to a creditor as performance for an obligation. The creditor then has a right to follow the property even if it undergoes successive changes of ownership.

Inspectors are appointed by creditors to represent them before the trustee during the administration of proposals and bankruptcies. They are expected to assist the trustee by virtue of their experience and are required to supervise certain aspects of the trustee’s administration.

The condition of being unable to pay debts as they become due, or in the ordinary course of business, or having liabilities that exceed the total value of assets.

Interim Receiver
A trustee appointed by the court to safeguard the estate assets and perform such other functions as the court may order for such time period as the court may determine.

Joint and Several Liability
The liability of more than one individual that may be enforced against them all by a joint action or against any one of them by an individual action.

A formal decision issued by a court on a matter under its consideration.

An fee payable to the Superintendent of Bankruptcy for the purpose of defraying the expenses of the supervision by the Superintendent in the administration of estates.

Financial obligations or debt of an individual or a business, including unpaid taxes, salaries, accounts payable etc.

A legal right or interest that a creditor has in a debtor’s property, lasting usually until the debt that it secures is satisfied.

The act of converting assets to cash, especially in bankruptcy or in the dissolution of a business.

A lien against property, which is registered on title, that is granted to secure an obligation such as a debt.

Notice of Intention to Enforce Security
A legal document under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act whereby a secured creditor provides 10 days notice to an insolvent debtor of its intention to enforce its security.

Notice of Intention to File a Proposal
A legal document filed with the Official Receiver stating that the debtor intends to file a proposal. The document is to include the name and address of the licensed trustee who has consented in writing to act as the trustee under the proposal and the names of the creditors who are owed $250 or more and the amounts of their claims. The filing of this document triggers the protection afforded to insolvent debtors under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.

The offences and sanctions provisions are contained in Part VIII of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. These are criminal or quasi-criminal violations of law; a person guilty of an offence is liable to a fine or imprisonment.

Official Receiver
The Official Receiver is a federal government employee in the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy and appointed by the Governor in Council. The Official Receiver, among other things, accepts the documents that are filed in proposals and bankruptcies, examines bankrupts under oath and chairs meetings of creditors.

Orderly Payment of Debts
A procedure prescribed in Part X of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, governed by provincial courts, which allows a person to pay debts.

Ordinary Resolution
A resolution carried by the majority of votes (one vote for each dollar of debt) of claims of creditors at a meeting of creditors; disallowed claims do not have votes.

Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy, an agency of Industry Canada. The Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy supervises the administration of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. The OSB has Division Offices throughout Canada.

Includes a natural person (human being), a partnership, and a corporation that is recognized by law as having the same rights and duties as a natural person.

Power of Attorney
A legal instrument (document) setting out explicitly an individual’s authority to act as the agent of the person giving the power of attorney.

Preferential Treatment
The payment of money or the granting of security by an insolvent debtor that benefits one or more creditors to the detriment of the other creditors.

Preferred Creditor
A creditor who has been given priority under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act over other creditors in the distribution of dividends.

The order in which creditors are ranked for payment of claims provable under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.

Proof of Claim
A creditor’s written statement that is submitted to prove the creditor’s claim; used as the basis for paying dividends, if accepted by the trustee.

Provable Claim
Any liability of the debtor for a debt incurred before the date of the bankruptcy.

Includes money, goods, land and every description of property, whether real or personal, situated in Canada or elsewhere.

An offer to creditors to settle debts under conditions other than the existing terms. It is a formal agreement under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.

A document signed by a creditor granting another person the authority to represent them at creditors’ meetings. The proxy holder can exercise the creditor’s right to vote.

The minimum number of creditors who must be present in person or by proxy to conduct business or to take a vote. At a meeting of creditors, one creditor present, in person or by proxy, who has duly proven a claim with the trustee prior to the meeting, constitutes a quorum.

A person who has taken possession pursuant to a security agreement of substantially all of the inventory, accounts receivables or the other property of the debtor. “Receiver” also includes a person who has been appointed privately pursuant to a security agreement or by an order of the court for the protection or collection of property that is the subject of diverse claims, usually to seize and sell the property of the debtor.

An Officer of a provincial court appointed by the Chief Justice with the powers and jurisdiction as specified under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.

Related Persons
Persons who are connected by a blood relationship, marriage, adoption or common law partnership; while so related, they are deemed not to deal with each other at arm’s length. The Act provides that the definition of related persons extends to corporations, shareholders and directors in certain specified situations.

Registered Education Savings Plan

Registered Home Ownership Savings Plan

Registered Retirement Savings Plan

Secured Creditor
A person holding an instrument such as a mortgage or a lien on or against the whole or part of the property of a debtor as security for a debt due him from the debtor.

Property or asset given or pledged to guarantee the fulfilment of an obligation, e.g. for the payment of a loan.

The act of taking possession of property by legal right or process.

Includes bailiff and any officer charged with the execution of a writ or other process under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act or any other Act or proceeding with respect to any property of a debtor.

Special Resolution
A resolution decided by a majority in number and three-fourths in value of the creditors with proven claims present, personally or by proxy, at a meeting of creditors and voting on the resolution.

Statement of Affairs
The bankrupt’s financial statement or a balance sheet of assets and liabilities showing the estimated value of assets and the names and addresses of creditors and the amounts owed.

Statement of Receipts and Disbursements
A statement detailing the receipt and disbursement of funds, interest received, fees charged by the trustee, all the dividends distributed to the creditors and particulars of property that is not sold.

Stay of Proceedings
A bar against any creditor for the recovery of a claim provable in bankruptcy against the insolvent person or the insolvent person’s property. No creditor shall start or continue any action, execution or other proceeding for the recovery of such claims.

Superintendent of Bankruptcy
A federally appointed official who oversees the administration of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act in Canada.

Surplus Income
The portion of an individual bankrupt’s income that is required to be paid into the bankruptcy estate during the bankruptcy as per standards established by the OSB.

Suspended Discharge
The Court orders a delay that results in the discharge not being in effect until a later date.

Taxation of Accounts
Application for court approval of the fees and disbursements of the trustee, interim receiver or legal counsel.

A property interest held by one person at the request of another for the benefit of a third party.

Trustee in Bankruptcy
A person licensed by the Superintendent of Bankruptcy to administer bankruptcy and proposal estates.

Unsecured Creditor
A creditor who advances credit without taking any rights against the property of the debtor.

Voting Letter
A document in which a creditor with a provable claim registers his vote for or against a proposal.

Voluntary Deposits Scheme
For the residents of Québec, a proceeding where the debtor makes a monthly payment based on his income and number of dependents to the court who will distribute theses payments to the creditor. .

A written guarantee of performance from a vendor to a purchaser stating that the item being sold is good and fit for its intended use by the purchaser.