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AS AMENDED 1875.
AN ACT to establish a uniform system of bankruptcy throughout the United States.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the several district courts of the United States be, and they hereby are, constituted courts of bankruptcy, and they shall have original jurisdiction in their respective districts in all matters and proceedings in bankruptcy, and they are hereby authorized to hear and adjudicate upon the same according to the provisions of this act. The said courts shall be always open for the transaction of business under this act, and the powers and jurisdiction hereby granted and conferred shall be exercised as well in vacation as in term time; and a judge sitting at chambers shall have the same powers and jurisdiction, including the power of keeping order and of punishing any contempt of his authority, as when sitting in court. And the jurisdiction hereby conferred shall extend to all cases and controversies arising between the bankrupt and any creditor or creditors who shall claim any debt or demand under the bankruptcy; to the collection of all the assets of the bankrupt; to the ascertainment and liquidation of the liens and other specific claims thereon; to the adjustment of the various priorities and conflicting interests of all parties; and to the marshaling and disposition of the different funds and assets, so as to secure the rights of all parties and due distribution of the assets among all the creditors; and to all acts, matters, and things to be done under and in virtue of the bankruptcy, until the final distribution and settlement of the estate of the bankrupt, and the close of the proceedings in bankruptcy. The said courts shall
have full authority to compel obedience to all orders and decrees passed by them in bankruptcy, by process of contempt and other remedial process, to the same extent that the circuit courts now have in any suit pending therein in equity. Said courts may sit for the transaction of business in bankruptcy at any place in the district, of which place, and the time of holding court, they shall have given notice, as well as at the places designated by law for holding such courts. The court having charge of the estate of any bankrupt may direct that any of the legal assets or debts of the bankrupt, as contradistinguished from equitable demands, shall, when such debt does not exceed five hundred dollars, be collected in the courts of the State where such bankrupt resides having jurisdiction of claims of such nature and amount.
SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That the several circuit courts of the United States, within and for the districts where the proceedings in bankruptcy shall be pending, shall have a general superintendence and jurisdiction of all cases and questions arising under this act; and, except when special provision is otherwise made, may, upon bill, petition, or other proper process, of any party aggrieved, hear and determine the case as a court of equity. The powers and jurisdiction hereby granted may be exercised either by said court, or by any justice thereof, in term time or vacation. Said circuit courts shall also have concurrent jurisdiction with the district courts of any district, of all suits at law or in equity, which may or shall be brought by the assignee in bankruptcy against any person claiming an adverse interest, or owing any debt to such bankrupt, or by such person against such assignee, touching any property or rights of property of said bankrupt transferable to or vested in such assignee; but no suit at law or in equity shall, in any case, be maintainable by or against such assignee, or by or against any person claiming an adverse interest, touching the property and rights of property aforesaid, in any court whatsoever, unless the same shall be brought within two years from the time the cause of action accrued, for or against such assignee; Provided, That nothing herein contained shall revive a right
of action barred at the time such assignee is appointed. The court may, in its discretion, on sufficient cause shown, and upon notice and hearing, direct the receiver or assignee to take possession of the property, and carry on the business of the debtor, or any part thereof, under the direction of the court, when, in its judgment, the interest of the estate as well as of the creditors will be promoted thereby, but not for a period exceeding nine months from the time the debtor shall have been declared a bankrupt: Provided, That such order shall not be made until the court shall be satisfied that it is approved by a majority in value of the creditors.
OF THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE LAW IN COURTS OF BANKRUPTCY.
SEC. 3. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the judges of the district courts of the United States within and for the several districts to appoint in each congressional district in said districts, upon the nomination and recommendation of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, one or more registers in bankruptcy, to assist the judge of the district court in the performance of his duties under this act. No person shall be eligible to such appointment unless he be a counsellor of said court, or of some one of the courts of record of the State in which he resides. Before entering upon the duties of his office, every person so appointed a register in bankruptcy shall give a bond to the United States, with condition that he will faithfully discharge the duties of his office, in a sum not less than one thousand dollars, to be fixed by said court, with sureties satisfactory to said court, or to either of the said justices thereof; and he shall, in open court, take and subscribe the oath prescribed in the act entitled "An act to prescribe an oath of office, and for other purposes," approved July second, eighteen hundred and sixty-two; and also that he will not, during his continuance in office, be, directly or indirectly, interested in or benefited by the fees or emoluments arising from any suit or matter pending in bankruptcy in either the district or circuit court in his district.
SEC. 4. And be it further enacted, That every register in bankruptcy so appointed and qualified, shall have power, and it shall be his duty, to make adjudication of bankruptcy, to receive the surrender of any bankrupt, to administer oaths in all proceedings before him, to hold and preside at meetings of creditors, to take proof of debts, to make all computations of dividends, and all orders of distribution, and to furnish the assignee with a certified copy of such orders, and of the schedules of creditors and assets filed in each case, to audit and pass accounts of assignees, to grant protection, to pass the last examination of any bankrupt in cases whenever the assignee or a creditor do not oppose, and to sit in chambers and dispatch there such part of the administrative business of the court and such uncontested matters as shall be defined in general rules and orders, or as the district judge shall in any particular matter direct; and he shall also make short memoranda of his proceedings in each case in which he shall act, in a docket to be kept by him for that purpose, and he shall forthwith, as the proceedings are taken, forward to the clerk of the district court a certified copy of said memoranda, which shall be entered by said clerk in the proper minute-book to be kept in his office, and any register of the court may act for any other register thereof: Provided, however, That nothing in this section contained shall empower a register to commit for contempt, or to hear a disputed adjudication, or any question of the allowance or suspension of an order of discharge; but in all matters where an issue of fact or of law is raised and contested by any party to the proceedings before him, it shall be his duty to cause the question or issue to be stated by the opposing parties in writing, and he shall adjourn the same into court for decision by the judge. No register shall be of counsel or attorney, either in or out of court, in any suit or matter pending in bankruptcy in either the circuit or district court of his district, nor in an appeal therefrom; nor shall he be executor, administrator, guardian, commissioner, appraiser, divider, or assignee, of or upon any estate within the jurisdiction of either of said courts of bankruptcy, nor be interested in the fees or
emoluments arising from either of said trusts. The fees of said registers, as established by this act, and by the general rules and orders required to be framed under it, shall be paid to them by the parties for whom the services may be rendered in the course of proceedings authorized by this
SEC. 5. And be it further enacted, That the judge of the district court may direct a register to attend at any place within the district, for the purpose of hearing such voluntary applications under this act as may not be opposed, of attending any meeting of creditors, or receiving any proof of debts, and, generally, for the prosecution of any bankruptcy or other proceedings under this act; and the traveling and incidental expenses of such register, and of any clerk or other officer attending him, incurred in so acting, shall be settled by said court in accordance with the rules prescribed under the tenth section of this act, and paid out of the assets of the estate in respect of which such register has so acted; or if there be no such assets, or if the assets shall be insufficient, then such expenses shall form a part of the costs in the case or cases in which the register shall have acted in such journey, to be apportioned by the judge; and such register, so acting, shall have and exercise all powers, except the power of commitment, vested in the district court for the summoning and examination of persons or witnesses, and for requiring the production of books, papers, and documents: Provided always, That all depositions of persons and witnesses taken before said register, and all acts done by him, shall be reduced to writing and be signed by him, and shall be filed in the clerk's office as part of the proceedings. Such register shall be subject to removal by the judge of the [circuit] district court, and all vacancies occurring by such removal, or by resignation, change of residence, death, or disability, shall be promptly filled by other fit persons, unless said court shall deem the continuance of the particular office unnecessary.
SEC. 6. And be it further enacted, That any party shall, during the proceedings before a register, be at liberty to take the opinion of the district judge upon any point or