Chapter 11 is a chapter of the United States Bankruptcy Code, which permits reorganization under the bankruptcy laws of the United States. Chapter 11 bankruptcy is available to every business, whether organized as a corporation or sole proprietorship, and to individuals, although it is most prominently used by corporate entities. In contrast, Chapter 7 governs the process of a liquidation bankruptcy, while Chapter 13 provides a reorganization process for the majority of private individuals.
When a person officially files Chapter 11 bankruptcy, they typically receive the protection of the automatic stay, which is a court order that prohibits further collection efforts from creditors.
Chapter 11 bankruptcy retains many of the features present in all, or most bankruptcy proceedings in the United States. It also provides additional tools for debtors as well. Most importantly, 11 U.S.C. § 1108 empowers the trustee to operate the debtor's business. In Chapter 11, unless a separate trustee is appointed for cause, the debtor, as debtor in possession, acts as trustee of the business.
Bankruptcy affords the debtor in possession a number of mechanisms to restructure its business. A debtor in possession can acquire financing and loans on favorable terms by giving new lenders first priority on the business' earnings. The court may also permit the debtor in possession to reject and cancel contracts. Debtors are also protected from other litigation against the business through the imposition of an automatic stay. While the automatic stay is in place, most litigation against the debtor is stayed, or put on hold, until it can be resolved in bankruptcy court, or resumed in its original venue.
If the business's debts exceed its assets, the bankruptcy restructuring results in the company's owners being left with nothing; instead, the owners' rights and interests are ended and the company's creditors are left with ownership of the newly reorganized company.
All creditors are entitled to be heard by the court. The court is ultimately responsible for determining whether the proposed plan of reorganization complies with the bankruptcy law.