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Contribution to Book
The Struggle for Voluntary Bankruptcy and Debt Adjustment in Antwerp (c. 1520-c. 1550)
Dealing with economic failures: between norm and practice (15th-21st century) (2016)
  • Dave De ruysscher
Abstract
The Antwerp example shows that, after a period of transition, a procedure for voluntary bankruptcy was implemented that focused on cooperation between the debtor and his creditors and aimed at drawing up agreements of postponement of debt. This new practice came to be applied in the 1520s, and it followed from an earlier collectivity in bankruptcy among creditors, not to mention from a new attention towards “good bankrupts”. The control enjoyed by Antwerp aldermen over the negotiations was crucial, for as commissioners they could attempt to persuade creditors into accepting a compromise, even though this action was not always successful. It seems from the Antwerp evidence that creditors were not per se averse to moratoria, and it can be presumed that they understood that under some circumstances leniency was also to their advantage. In this regard, a dichotomy between creditor-friendly and debtor-friendly measures and systems is not demonstrated in the Antwerp source material. At the same time, however, it seems that individual actions of creditors jeopardized the voluntary insolvency approach and that its best result was temporary relief. Liquidation remained the default proceeding in the long run. Even though creditors could in principle be convinced of the necessity of postponements, some of them were not. As inde- pendent agents, those free riders had the tools to depict the debtor as a fraud, and thus undermine his possibilities of definitive recovery. They could wait until the short-term exemptions expired.
Disciplines
Publication Date
Spring 2016
Editor
M. Schulte-Beerbühl, A. Cordes
Publisher
Peter Lang
Citation Information
Dave De ruysscher. "The Struggle for Voluntary Bankruptcy and Debt Adjustment in Antwerp (c. 1520-c. 1550)" FrankfurtDealing with economic failures: between norm and practice (15th-21st century) (2016) p. 77 - 95
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/deruysscher/17/