The legal meaning of bankruptcy and insolvency law has often remained elusive, even to practitioners and scholars in the field, despite having been enshrined in Canada’s Constitution since Confederation. Federal power in this area must be measured against provincial jurisdiction over property, civil rights, and other aspects of provincial power.
Debt and Federalism traces changing conceptions of the federal bankruptcy and insolvency power through four landmark cases that together form the constitutional foundation of the Canadian bankruptcy system: the Voluntary Assignments case in 1894, Royal Bank of Canada v Larue in 1928, the 1934 Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act Reference, and the 1937 Farmers’ Creditors Arrangement Act Reference. At times when federal and provincial views appeared seemingly irreconcilable, each decision incrementally laid the groundwork for the next constitutional challenge, ultimately producing the bedrock for modern understandings of bankruptcy and insolvency law.
Thomas G.W. Telfer and Virginia Torrie draw on a wide array of archival and legal sources to analyze the four decisions from a historical and doctrinal perspective, and to situate them within the appropriate social, economic, and political contexts. This astute book demonstrates that together, the specific legal changes brought about by these landmark cases underpin contemporary bankruptcy and insolvency law and scholarship.
Scholars and students of bankruptcy and insolvency, debtor-creditor relations, constitutional law, and federalism will find this work invaluable, as will lawyers and judges who practise in these areas.
Thomas G.W. Telfer is a professor and teaching fellow in the Faculty of Law at Western University. He is the author of Ruin and Redemption: A Struggle for a Canadian Bankruptcy Law, 1867–1919 and co-editor of Bankruptcy and Insolvency Law in Canada: Cases, Materials, and Problems. Virginia Torrie is an associate professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Manitoba. She is the author of Reinventing Bankruptcy Law: A History of the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act, as well as several articles on bankruptcy and insolvency law.
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