Faculty of Law

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2013 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 3, 0.125 EFTSL

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FacultyFaculty of Law
OfferedNot offered in 2013


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 indebtedeness.


On completion of this unit, students should:
a. 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;
b. 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
c. 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)

Chief examiner(s)

Contact hours

Students will be required to attend 36 hours of seminars, and undertake approximately an additional 108 hours of private study, including reading, class preparation, assignment preparation and revision time over the duration of the course.