Rescuing Business: The Making of Corporate Bankruptcy Law in England and the United States

By Bruce G. Carruthers; Terence C. Halliday | Go to book overview

10 Jurisdictional Struggles within the State

Substantive statutory changes can disturb sovereignty over work by professionals. That conflict breaks out among professions in the market should not be a surprise, since the market itself is created on a competitive principle. It is not nearly so obvious that territorial conflicts over jurisdictional rights should flare up within the state itself. Yet the substance of stratification--the unequal distributions of money, prestige, and power--is equally present within state institutions, though its weighting may lean more heavily to status and power than to money. Since a major statutory disturbance can also dislocate occupations within the state, it seems possible that the reform of bankruptcy laws will lead to disputes in many directions: territorial conflicts between different executive departments; conflicts over the locus of work in the judiciary or the executive; and, in either case, struggles over status and power as work, responsibilities, and rewards are shifted up or down administrative hierarchies.

As in previous chapters on jurisdictional rights, the first line of investigation will be to identify jurisdictional fault-lines and manifest struggles among occupations. The second, and more important, line of inquiry will be to explore how the battles over jurisdictional rights affect the substantive outcomes of bankruptcy administration. Put another way, is the distribution of property rights that results from the Insolvency Act and Bankruptcy Code affected by the disputes among occupations for rights to control certain kinds of work?


ENGLAND: CREATING SPECIALIZED INSOLVENCY COURTS

By contrast to the constitutional dramas and manifold scandals that periodically engulf American courts, the English judiciary conventionally appears as a paragon of virtue. Of course, English judges, too, are assailed from time to time for controversial decisions. But the English judiciary has little of the political immediacy that surrounds lower court elections in the United States; as an institution its constitutional rationale is rarely thrown into doubt; and its judges rarely are tainted by aspersions of corruption or venality. If the American judiciary is a very public institution, with high visibility, and political conflict to match, the

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