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Title: Personal insolvency law in the modern consumer credit society : English and comparative perspectives
Author: Spooner, J. T.
Awarding Body: University College London (University of London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2014
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Abstract:
My project considers the extent to which personal insolvency law has evolved, and should evolve, to meet the conditions of the modern consumer credit society. I illustrate how unprecedented household borrowing has become essential to sustaining macro-economic growth and household living standards, and present economic theories explaining this development, as well as the legal/regulatory norms which facilitated it. Exploring insolvency law theory (particularly ideas from law and economics), I then contrast the law’s traditional debt collection objective with the more recently developed fresh start policy in arguing that the circumstances of modern consumer over-indebtedness require a re-orientation of the law to prioritise its debt relief objective. I explore next factors influencing the development of consumer insolvency law. I contrast the laws of England and Wales, Ireland, France and Belgium, highlighting the extent to which each law is oriented towards the goals of debt collection or debt relief. Using empirical data to question theories which attribute such differences to contrasting legal traditions, social welfare systems or cultural values, I argue that political factors such as interest group influence and shifting policy salience have been more influential in shaping laws, and may occasionally impede the advancement of the fresh start policy. Next I evaluate the extent to which the realities of consumer over-indebtedness and the fresh start policy have been accepted by English policymakers, administrators and courts. My case studies focus on the conditions for access, scope of debt relief, and sanctions for culpable debtors under English personal insolvency procedures. I argue that in certain aspects English law has not departed sufficiently from its origins in commercial law and its traditional role as a debt collection mechanism. I propose reforms which would allow the law to reflect better its transformation into a de facto consumer law and its need to embrace more comprehensively the fresh start policy.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.626789  DOI: Not available
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