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iTrustees shall not be liable, personally or on their bonds, to the United States, for any penalties or forfeitures incurred by the bankrupts under this Act, of whose estates they are respectively trustees.
j. Joint trustees may give joint or several bonds.
k. If any referee or trustee shall fail to give bond, as herein provided and within the time limited, he shall be deemed to have declined his appointment, and such failure shall create a vacancy in his office.
1. Suits upon referees' bonds shall not be brought subsequent to two years after the alleged breach of the bond.
m. Suits upon trustees' bonds shall not be brought subsequent to two years after the estate has been closed.
SEC. 51. DUTIES OF CLERKS.-a. Clerks shall respectively (1) account for, as for other fees received by them, the clerk's fee paid in each case and such other fees as may be received for certified copies of records which may be prepared for persons other than officers; (2) collect the fees of the clerk, referee, and trustee in each case instituted before filing the petition, except the petition of a proposed voluntary bankrupt which is accompanied by an affidavit stating that the petitioner is without, and can not obtain, the money with which to pay such fees; (3) deliver to the referees upon application all papers which may be referred to them, or, if the offices of such referees are not in the same cities or towns as the offices of such clerks, transmit such papers by mail, and in like manner return papers which were received from such referees after they have been used; (4) and within ten days after each case has been closed pay to the referee, if the case was referred, the fee collected for him, and to the trustee the fee collected for him at the time of filing the petition.
SEC. 52. COMPENSATION OF CLERKS AND MARSHALS.-a. Clerks shall respectively receive as full compensation for their service to each estate, a filing fee of ten dollars, except when a fee is not required from a voluntary bankrupt.
b. Marshals shall respectively receive from the estate where an adjudication in bankruptcy is made, except as herein otherwise provided, for the performance of their services in proceedings in bankruptcy, the same fees, and account for them in the same way, as they are entitled to receive for the performance of the same or similar services in other cases in accordance with laws now in force, or such as may be hereafter enacted, fixing the compensation of marshals.
SEC. 53. DUTIES OF ATTORNEY-GENERAL.-a. The Attorney-General shall annually lay before Congress statistical tables showing for the whole country, and by States, the number of cases during the year of voluntary and involuntary bankruptcy; the amount of the property of the estates; the dividends paid and the expenses of administering such estates; and such other like information as he may deem important.
SEC. 54. STATISTICS OF BANKRUPTCY PROCEEDINGS.-a. Officers shall furnish in writing and transmit by mail such information as is within
their knowledge, and as may be shown by the records and papers in their possession, to the Attorney-General, for statistical purposes, within ten days after being requested by him to do so.
SEC. 55. MEETINGS OF CREDITORS.-a. The court shall cause the first meeting of the creditors of a bankrupt to be held, not less than ten nor more than thirty days after the adjudication, at the county seat of the county in which the bankrupt has had his principal place of business, resided, or had his domicile; or if that place would be manifestly inconvenient as a place of meeting for the parties in interest, or if the bankrupt is one who does not do business, reside, or have his domicile within the United States, the court shall fix a place for the meeting which is the most convenient for parties in interest. If such meeting should by any mischance not be held within such time, the court shall fix the date, as soon as may be thereafter, when it shall be held.
b. At the first meeting of creditors the judge or referee shall preside, and, before proceeding with the other business, may allow or disallow the claims of creditors there presented, and may publicly examine the bankrupt or cause him to be examined at the instance of any creditor.
c. The creditors shall at each meeting take such steps as may be pertinent and necessary for the promotion of the best interests of the estate and the enforcement of this Act.
d. A meeting of creditors, subsequent to the first one, may be held at any time and place when all of the creditors who have secured the allowance of their claims sign a written consent to hold a meeting at such time and place.
e. The court shall call a meeting of creditors whenever one-fourth or more in number of those who have proven their claims shall file a written request to that effect; if such request is signed by a majority of such creditors, which number represents a majority in amount of such claims, and contains a request for such meeting to be held at a designated place, the court shall call such meeting at such place within thirty days after the date of the filing of the request.
f. Whenever the affairs of the estate are ready to be closed a final meeting of creditors shall be ordered.
SEC. 56. VOTERS AT MEETINGS OF CREDITORS. -a. Creditors shall pass upon matters submitted to them at their meetings by a majority vote in number and amount of claims of all creditors whose claims have been allowed and are present, except as herein otherwise provided.
b. Creditors holding claims which are secured or have priority shall not, in respect to such claims, be entitled to vote at creditors' meetings, nor shall such claims be counted in computing either the number of
creditors or the amount of their claims, unless the amounts of such claims exceed the values of such securities or priorities, and then only for such excess.
SEC. 57. PROOF AND ALLOWANCE OF CLAIMS.-a. Proof of claims shall consist of a statement under oath, in writing, signed by a creditor setting forth the claim, the consideration therefor, and whether any, and, if so what, securities are held therefor, and whether any, and, if so what, payments have been made thereon, and that the sum claimed is justly owing from the bankrupt to the creditor.
b. Whenever a claim is founded upon an instrument of writing, such instrument, unless lost or destroyed, shall be filed with the proof of claim. If such instrument is lost or destroyed, a statement of such fact and of the circumstances of such loss or destruction shall be filed under oath with the claim. After the claim is allowed or disallowed, such instrument may be withdrawn by permission of the court, upon leaving a copy thereof on file with the claim.
c. Claims after being proved may, for the purpose of allowance, be filed by the claimants in the court where the proceedings are pending or before the referee if the case has been referred.
d. Claims which have been duly proved shall be allowed, upon receipt by or upon presentation to the court, unless objection to their allowance shall be made by parties in interest, or their consideration be continued for cause by the court upon its own motion.
e. Claims of secured creditors and those who have priority may be allowed to enable such creditors to participate in the proceedings at creditors' meetings held prior to the determination of the value of their securities or priorities, but shall be allowed for such sums only as to the courts seem to be owing over and above the value of their securities or priorities.
f. Objections to claims shall be heard and determined as soon as the convenience of the court and the best interests of the estates and the claimants will permit.
g. The claims of creditors who have received preferences shall not be allowed unless such creditors shall surrender their preferences.
h. The value of securities held by secured creditors shall be determined by converting the same into money according to the terms of the agreement pursuant to which such securities were delivered to such creditors or by such creditors and the trustee, by agreement, arbitration, compromise, or litigation, as the court may direct, and the amount of such value shall be credited upon such claims, and a dividend shall be paid only on the unpaid balance.
i. Whenever a creditor, whose claim against a bankrupt estate is secured by the individual undertaking of any person, fails to prove such claim, such person may do so in the creditor's name, and if he discharge such undertaking in whole or in part he shall be subrogated to that extent to the rights of the creditor.
j. Debts owing to the United States, a State, a county, a district, or a municipality as a penalty or forfeiture shall not be allowed, except for the amount of the pecuniary loss sustained by the act, transaction, or proceeding out of which the penalty or forfeiture arose, with reasonable and actual costs occasioned thereby and such interest as may have accrued thereon according to law.
k. Claims which have been allowed may be reconsidered for cause and reallowed or rejected in whole or in part, according to the equities of the case, before but not after the estate has been closed.
7. Whenever a claim shall have been reconsidered and rejected, in whole or in part, upon which a dividend has been paid, the trustee may recover from the creditor the amount of the dividend received upon the claim if rejected in whole, or the proportional part thereof if rejected only in part.
m. The claim of any estate which is being administered in bankruptcy against any like estate may be proved by the trustee and allowed by the court in the same manner and upon like terms as the claims of other creditors.
n. Claims shall not be proved against a bankrupt estate subsequent to one year after the adjudication; or if they are liquidated by litigation and the final judgment therein is rendered within thirty days before or after the expiration of such time, then within sixty days after the rendition of such judgment: Provided, That the right of infants and insane persons without guardians, without notice of the proceedings, may continue six months longer.
SEC. 58. NOTICES TO CREDITORS.- a. Creditors shall have at least ten days' notice by mail, to their respective addresses as they appear in the list of creditors of the bankrupt, or as afterwards filed with the papers in the case by the creditors, unless they waive notice in writing, of (1) all examinations of the bankrupt; (2) all hearings upon applications for the confirmation of compositions or the discharge of bankrupts; (3) all meetings of creditors; (4) all proposed sales of property; (5) the declaration and time of payment of dividends; (6) the filing of the final accounts of the trustee, and the time when and the place where they will be examined and passed upon; (7) the proposed compromise of any controversy, and (8) the proposed dismissal of the proceedings.
b. Notice to creditors of the first meeting shall be published at least once and may be published such number of additional times as the court may direct; the last publication shall be at least one week prior to the date fixed for the meeting. Other notices may be published as the court shall direct.
c. All notices shall be given by the referee, unless otherwise ordered by the judge.
SEC. 59. WHO MAY FILE AND DISMISS PETITIONS.—a. Any qualified person may file a petition to be adjudged a voluntary bankrupt.
b. Three or more creditors who have provable claims against any person which amount in the aggregate, in excess of the value of securities held by them, if any, to five hundred dollars or over; or if all of the creditors of such person are less than twelve in number, then one of such creditors whose claim equals such amount may file a petition to have him adjudged a bankrupt.
c. Petitions shall be filed in duplicate, one copy for the clerk and one for service on the bankrupt.
d. If it be averred in the petition that the creditors of the bankrupt are less than twelve in number, and less than three creditors have joined as petitioners therein, and the answer avers the existence of a larger number of creditors, there shall be filed with the answer a list under oath of all the creditors, with their addresses, and thereupon the court shall cause all such creditors to be notified of the pendency of such petition and shall delay the hearing upon such petition for a reasonable time, to the end that parties in interest shall have an opportunity to be heard; if upon such hearing it shall appear that a sufficient number have joined in such petition, or if prior to or during such hearing a sufficient number shall join therein, the case may be proceeded with, but otherwise it shall be dismissed.
e. In computing the number of creditors of a bankrupt for the purpose of determining how many creditors must join in the petition, such creditors as were employed by him at the time of the filing of the petition or are related to him by consanguinity or affinity within the third degree, as determined by the common law, and have not joined in the petition, shall not be counted.
f. Creditors other than original petitioners may at any time enter their appearance and join in the petition, or file an answer and be heard in opposition to the prayer of the petition.
g. A voluntary or involuntary petition shall not be dismissed by the petitioner or petitioners or for want of prosecution or by consent of parties until after notice to the creditors.
SEC. 60. PREFERRED CREDITORS.-a. A person shall be deemed to have given a preference if, being insolvent, he has procured or suffered a judgment to be entered against himself in favor of any person, or made a transfer of any of his property, and the effect of the enforcement of such judgment or transfer will be to enable any one of his creditors to obtain a greater percentage of his debt than any other of such creditors of the same class.
b. If a bankrupt shall have given a preference within four months before the filing of a petition, or after the filing of the petition and before the adjudication, and the person receiving it, or to be benefited thereby, or his agent acting therein, shall have had reasonable cause to believe that it was intended thereby to give a preference, it shall be voidable by the trustee, and he may recover the property or its value from such person.