In any business, accumulating unpaid accounts receivable from customers is an unfortunate fact of life. Where creditors issue invoices with 30-day terms, with a fluctuation in the economy and other cash flow issues that arise for their customers, billings are often not paid on a timely basis. The companies often have long-term business relationships with their customers. From time to time during that ongoing relationship, creditors see deterioration in the amount of time necessary for certain customers to make prompt payment for goods sold and delivered. There are also instances where unscrupulous account debtors, knowing that they may be contemplating a bankruptcy filing, increase their ordering from their suppliers to have more merchandise on hand with the expectation it would be difficult for them to obtain credit in the event of filing of a Chapter 11 case.
Despite diligence and monitoring by credit managers, frequently companies are left with a sizable account receivable that has not been satisfied by the customer despite assurances and promises. In these circumstances, it is advisable to retain the services of counsel to initiate a lawsuit with the goal of obtaining a monetary judgment and collecting on the amounts owed. The decision to pursue litigation should be made on a case by case basis, being mindful of the fact that when a company becomes insolvent, there is usually more than one creditor and the law rewards the diligent creditor who chooses litigation, obtains judgment and follows through on collection efforts.
Creditors who sell goods to insolvent debtors within 45 days immediately prior to a debtor’s bankruptcy filing under Chapter 11 may assert a written demand for a return of goods known as a reclamation claim. These claims arise under the Uniform Commercial Code and specific sections of the Bankruptcy Code. Promptly upon receiving notice of the bankruptcy, an evaluation of the sales to a debtor immediately preceding the case filing should be analyzed.