Supreme Court Hears Homestead Surcharge Case

Posted by NCBRC - January 14, 2014

The US Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday in the case of Law v. Siegel (In re Law), No. 12-5196. That case involves the issue of whether a bankruptcy court has the power under section 105(a) to impose a special surcharge by taking the debtor’s homestead exemption due to debtor misconduct.

NCBRC filed an amicus brief on behalf of the NACBA membership arguing that while section 105(a) grants equitable power to the court to effectuate the terms of the Bankruptcy Code, it does not permit the court to contravene other sections of the Code or bypass its otherwise applicable provisions. In sections 522(c) and (k) Congress specified that exempt property cannot be used to pay pre-petition debts or administrative expenses. In addition, in sections 522(o) and (q), Congress specified conditions under which a homestead exemption may be compromised as a result of debtor’s misconduct. Section 105(a) permits a court to use its equitable power to “carry out the provisions” of the Code, not to override or contradict them.

The transcript of the argument can be found here. Law v Siegel transcript


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