The Proof, Valuation, and Payment of Claims

AuthorRoderick J. Wood
After the property of the bankrupt estate has been assembled and li-
quidated, the proceeds are di stributed to the participati ng creditors.
The bankruptcy clai ms process involves two fundamental questions:
Who is eligible to participate in t he proceeds of the bankruptcy e state?
How will these funds be distributed among the participating claim-
ants? The f‌irst question is addressed in the provisions of the BIA t hat
deal with the proof of claims. The second question is dealt with in pro-
visions that addre ss the scheme of distribution in ba nkruptcy.
The right to prove a claim against a bank rupt estate is “based upon
the theory that t he debtor’s business has come to an end and that all
obligations whether already incurred or merely contingent are to be
disposed of and cleared off in the bankruptcy proceedings.”1 This al-
lows as many claim ants as possible to participate in the process and
share in the liquidation proceeds.2 This means that creditors will be
entitled to share in the ban krupt estate even though the debtor may
not have been in default of a contractual obligation at the date of the
bankruptcy and even t hough a debt was not due until some future d ate.
The right to prove a claim in bankr uptcy is subject to the principles
that govern executory contracts.3 A claimant cannot prove a claim
if the t rustee aff‌irm s the contract, since the claimant will receive the
1 Re McKay (1922), 2 CBR 462 (Ont HCJ).
2 Newfoundland an d Labrador v AbitibiBowater In c, 2012 SCC 67 at para 35
3 See Chapter 6, Sect ion B.
The Proof, Valuation, and Pay ment of Claims 261
agreed-upon performance. If the trustee disclai ms the contract, the claim-
ant is entitled to prove a claim for breach of contract in the ba nkruptcy.
A creditor must f‌ile a proof of claim with the t rustee in order to partici-
pate in the distribution of the assets of a bankrupt estate.4 The f‌iling of
a proof of claim also perm its the creditor to vote at meetings of credit-
ors.5 A failure to f‌ile a proof of claim before the f‌irst meeting of credit-
ors does not preclude the creditor from participating i n the distribution
of assets. However, it is unwise for a creditor to wait too long before
f‌iling a proof of claim, since th at cred itor wi ll not be entitled to disturb
the dividends th at have already been paid out to other creditors.6
The concept of a provable claim is signif‌icant in a number of other
respects. First, a provable claim i s subject to the automatic bankruptcy
stay of proceedings. This prevents the creditor from commencing or
continuing any action or enforcing any remedy against the bankrupt
or the bank rupt’s property.7 If the claim is not provable, the stay of
proceedings does not affect it. Second, the di scharge of an individ-
ual bankr upt ordinarily release s the bankrupt from claims provable
in bankruptcy.8 These events do not depend upon whether or not the
creditor has f‌iled a proof of claim. R ather, they arise if the claim falls
within the def‌in ition of a provable claim.
Possessing a clai m that is provable in bankruptcy against an indi-
vidual bankr upt is not necessarily a good th ing from the point of view
of a creditor. Although the creditor is able to participate in a bank-
ruptcy dividend, the cred itor’s clai m will usually be exting uished upon
the discharge of the ba nkrupt. If there are few or no assets in the bank-
rupt estate, the creditor may be b etter off with a non-provable claim. A
creditor with a non-provable claim cannot enforce it against t he prop-
erty of the bank rupt estate, since the debtor no longer holds title to the
property. However, the creditor will be able to enforce it against future,
post-discharge ass ets of the debtor, since a non-provable claim is not
released when the debtor obtains a discharge.
4 BIA, s 124(1).
5 See Chapter 8, Sect ion A(2).
6 BIA, s 150.
7 Ibid, s 69.3(1) and see Chapter 6, Section A.
8 BIA, s 178(2). Certain t ypes of claims li sted in s 178(1) are not release d. See
Chapter 10, Section G.
The situation is different if the ban krupt is a corporation. Bank-
ruptcy signals the end of the line for the corporation, unless all of
the claims of the creditors are satisf‌ied.9 Without a provable claim, a
creditor will recover nothing. The corporation will cease to carry on
operations and all of its as sets will be distributed to creditors who have
proven their claims in t he bankruptcy.
1) The Proof of Claim Procedure
A bankrupt is required to submit to the trustee a statement of aff airs
that sets out the names and addresses of all the cred itors.10 The trustee
uses this i nformation to identify the creditors in order to send them
the prescribed proof of clai m form together with the notice of the f‌irst
meeting of creditors.11 The trustee also publishes a notice of the bank-
ruptcy in a local newspaper12 and will provide the proof of claim forms
to creditors who respond to the advertis ement.
The proof of claim must make reference to a statement of account
showing the particulars of the claim and ma ke reference to vouchers
or other evidence by which it can be substant iated.13 The statement of
account and supporting evidence must be suff‌icient to enable the t rust-
ee to make an informed decision as to whether the claim has merit.14
The creditor also gives part iculars of any security held by the creditor
and indicates any payments received by the creditor in the past three
months.15 Proof of claims for unpaid wages owi ng to workers can be
made in a single proof by a union, a federal or provincial l abour depart-
ment, or other person acting on behalf of the creditors.16
Once the proof of claim is completed, the creditor delivers it to
the trustee.17 After exami ning it, the trustee m ay admit the claim or
9 BIA, s 169(4).
10 Ibid, s 158(d).
11 Ibid, s 102(2).
12 Ibid, s 102(4). It is not neces sary to do so in summa ry administrat ion bankrupt-
cies. See BIA , s 155(c).
13 See Re Port Chevrolet Olds mobile Ltd (2004), 49 CBR (4th) 146 (BCCA).
14 Re Nor ris (1988), 67 CBR (NS) 246 (Ont HCJ), rev’d on other grounds (1989), 75
CBR (NS) 97 (Ont CA).
15 The period is twelve month s in the case of a related par ty. This information is
relevant for the pur poses if any of the payment s might be avoided as prefer-
ences. See Chapt er 7, Section B .
16 BIA, s 126(2).
17 Ibid, s 124(2).

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