LAW4528 - Comparative consumer bankruptcy - 2017

6 points, SCA Band 3, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Not offered in 2017


The 'democratization of credit' refers to the recent expansion in access to credit by households in the lower ranges of the distribution of income. A major policy question raised by the democratization of credit is how to adapt consumer bankruptcy law and parallel out-of-court measures to the increased incidence of over indebtedness. As the recent sub prime crisis highlights, common law systems have generally taken a laissez-faire approach and used the bankruptcy system as the primary legal remedy when debtors cannot repay their loans. This unit will deal with the approaches taken in a number of jurisdictions, including Europe and North America, to address the policy questions raised by the democratization of credit in recent years. Among the subjects considered are: out of court and formal bankruptcy procedures, consensual negotiation, creditor responsibility and the historical trajectory of regulatory approaches to over indebtedness.


On completion of this unit, students should:

  1. understand the underlying policies and the range of options for dealing with consumer over indebtedness in a number of international and comparative systems and legislation;
  2. be able to understand and critically assess over indebtedness in relation to general themes in commercial law, and law generally, including the relative role of rules and standards, the tension between certainty and flexibility, the use of judicial discretion and the managerial role of judges; and
  3. grasp the ways in which bankruptcy systems and legislation touch on regulatory theories and have implications for the day-to-day lives of many people globally.


Class presentation (group or individual) 10%; oral participation 10% and research essay 80% (4,000 words)

Workload requirements

Minimum total expected workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours per semester typically comprising a mixture of scheduled learning activities and independent study. The unit requires on average three/four hours of scheduled activities per week. Scheduled activities may include a combination of teacher directed learning, peer directed learning and online engagement.

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)