Bankruptcy in Germany is governed by a code passed in 1877. Prior to this each state had its system and the law was "wholly chaotic." The same distinction is drawn in Germany as in France between mere commercial failure and bankruptcy, simple or fraudulent. Simple bankruptcy is established by such offences as gambling, dealing in "futures," disorderly book-keeping or extravagance in living: fraudulent bankruptcy, by offences of a deeper dye - the concealment of property, the falsifying of books, the manufacture of fictitious debts and the giving of illegal preferences. Both kinds of bankruptcy are punishable, fraudulent bankruptcy by penal servitude, or in case of mitigating circumstances, by imprisonment for not less than three months. Accessories in fraudulent bankruptcies are liable to penal servitude - for instance, a creditor who conspires with the debtor to secure an advantage to the prejudice of the other debtors. The creditors are called together within one month from the date of adjudication, and at their meeting they may appoint a committee of their number to advise with the trustee. It is the duty of the court to see that the trustee performs his functions. Estates are liquidated with great rapidity.

In order that the creditors may receive dividends at the earliest moment, it is customary to sell the assets by auction. The creditors by a majority in number and three-fourths in value may accept a composition, but such an arrangement must have the approval of the court. The fees are very moderate: in an ordinary bankruptcy the attorney's fees do not, it is said, exceed £5.


Bankruptcy in Italy is regulated by the Commercial Code of 1883 (Part III.). Only merchants can pass through the bankruptcy court. Merchants are defined by the code as those who, as an habitual profession, engage in commercial business. This definition includes merchant companies. Bankruptcy proceedings may be taken either by the debtor or by a creditor for a commercial debt, or may be ordered by the court. The amount of the debt is immaterial: a small sum will suffice, provided its non-payment is proof of insolvency. Bankruptcy can only be declared where there is insolvency. The judgment adjudicating a debtor bankrupt deprives the bankrupt of the right to administer his affairs, and nominates a trustee to realize the property under the superintendence of a judge and a commission of creditors. All the property of the bankrupt, movable and immovable, is sold by auction and distributed in dividends. This is one way of closing the bankruptcy, but it may also be closed by an arrangement. No minimum percentage is required for such arrangement, but it must have the assent of creditors representing three-fourths of the bankrupt's indebtedness. Composition before bankruptcy is not recognized by Italian law.

Bankrupts are liable to criminal proceedings involving punishments more or less heavy for offences against the law, e.g. for not keeping books in the way prescribed by law.