11 U.S. Code § 102 - Rules of construction
Section 102 specifies various rules of construction but is not exclusive. Other rules of construction that are not set out in title 11 are nevertheless intended to be followed in construing the bankruptcy code. For example, the phrase “on request of a party in interest” or a similar phrase, is used in connection with an action that the court may take in various sections of the Code. The phrase is intended to restrict the court from acting sua sponte. Rules of bankruptcy procedure or court decisions will determine who is a party in interest for the particular purposes of the provision in question, but the court will not be permitted to act on its own.
Although “property” is not construed in this section, it is used consistently throughout the code in its broadest sense, including cash, all interests in property, such as liens, and every kind of consideration including promises to act or forbear to act as in section 548(d).
Section 102(1) expands on a rule of construction contained in H.R. 8200 as passed by the House and in the Senate amendment. The phrase “after notice and a hearing”, or a similar phrase, is intended to be construed according to the particular proceeding to mean after such notice as is appropriate in the particular circumstances, and such opportunity, if any, for a hearing as is appropriate in the particular circumstances. If a provision of title 11 authorizes an act to be taken “after notice and a hearing” this means that if appropriate notice is given and no party to whom such notice is sent timely requests a hearing, then the act sought to be taken may be taken without an actual hearing.
In very limited emergency circumstances, there will be insufficient time for a hearing to be commenced before an action must be taken. The action sought to be taken may be taken if authorized by the court at an ex parte hearing of which a record is made in open court. A full hearing after the fact will be available in such an instance.
In some circumstances, such as under section 1128, the bill requires a hearing and the court may act only after a hearing is held. In those circumstances the judge will receive evidence before ruling. In other circumstances, the court may take action “after notice and a hearing,” if no party in interest requests a hearing. In that event a court order authorizing the action to be taken is not necessary as the ultimate action taken by the court implies such an authorization.
Section 102(8) is new. It contains a rule of construction indicating that a definition contained in a section in title 11 that refers to another section of title 11 does not, for the purposes of such reference, take the meaning of a term used in the other section. For example, section 522(a)(2) defines “value” for the purposes of section 522. Section 548(d)(2) defines “value” for purposes of section 548. When section 548 is incorporated by reference in section 522, this rule of construction makes clear that the definition of “value” in section 548 governs its meaning in section 522 notwithstanding a different definition of “value” in section 522(a)(2).
Section 102 provides seven rules of construction. Some are derived from current law; others are derived from 1 U.S.C. 1; a few are new. They apply generally throughout proposed title 11. These are terms that are not appropriate for definition, but that require an explanation.
Paragraph (1) defines the concept of “after notice and a hearing.” The concept is central to the bill and to the separation of the administrative and judicial functions of bankruptcy judges. The phrase means after such notice as is appropriate in the particular circumstances (to be prescribed by either the Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure or by the court in individual circumstances that the Rules do not cover. In many cases, the Rules will provide for combined notice of several proceedings), and such opportunity for a hearing as is appropriate in the particular circumstances. Thus, a hearing will not be necessary in every instance. If there is no objection to the proposed action, the action may go ahead without court action. This is a significant change from present law, which requires the affirmative approval of the bankruptcy judge for almost every action. The change will permit the bankruptcy judge to stay removed from the administration of the bankruptcy or reorganization case, and to become involved only when there is a dispute about a proposed action, that is, only when there is an objection. The phrase “such opportunity for a hearing as is appropriate in the particular circumstances” is designed to permit the Rules and the courts to expedite or dispense with hearings when speed is essential. The language “or similar phrase” is intended to cover the few instances in the bill where “after notice and a hearing” is interrupted by another phrase, such as “after notice to the debtor and a hearing.”
Paragraph (2) specifies that “claim against the debtor” includes claim against property of the debtor. This paragraph is intended to cover nonrecourse loan agreements where the creditor’s only rights are against property of the debtor, and not against the debtor personally. Thus, such an agreement would give rise to a claim that would be treated as a claim against the debtor personally, for the purposes of the bankruptcy code.
Paragraph (4) specifies that “may not” is prohibitive and not permissive (such as in “might not”).
Paragraph (5) specifies that “or” is not exclusive. Thus, if a party “may do (a) or (b)”, then the party may do either or both. The party is not limited to a mutually exclusive choice between the two alternatives.
Paragraph (6) makes clear that “order for relief” means entry of an order for relief. If the court orally orders relief, but the order is not entered until a later time, then any time measurements in the bill are from entry, not from the oral order. In a voluntary case, the entry of the order for relief is the filing of the petition commencing the voluntary case.
Paragraph (7) specifies that the singular includes the plural. The plural, however, generally does not include the singular. The bill uses only the singular, even when the item in question most often is found in plural quantities, in order to avoid the confusion possible if both rules of construction applied. When an item is specified in the plural, the plural is intended.
1986—Par. (9). Pub. L. 99–554 added par. (9).
1984—Par. (8). Pub. L. 98–353 substituted “contained” for “continued”.
Effective date and applicability of amendment by Pub. L. 99–554 dependent upon the judicial district involved, see section 302(d), (e) of Pub. L. 99–554, set out as a note under section 581 of Title 28, Judiciary and Judicial Procedure.