Absence of Legislative History Obscures the Plain Meaning of Bankruptcy Code Section 503(b)(1)(A)

Business Law Today
January 2011

Without guidance from Congress regarding the purpose of recent amendments to the Bankruptcy Code, courts have disagreed about the plain meaning of the law and have reached different conclusions about the appropriate treatment of bankruptcy claims for unpaid wages, salaries, and commissions.  Mr. Kapur explores three diverging interpretations of Bankruptcy Code section 503(b)(1)(A) and contends that legislative history can be particularly useful in situations where a statute is ambiguous.  According to Mr. Kapur, although legislative history cannot—and should not—supplant the text, it can shine a light on the legislature’s purpose, thereby illuminating a statute’s intended meaning.

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