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Why Do Distressed Companies Choose Delaware? An Empirical Analysis of Venue Choice in Bankruptcy


  • Kenneth Ayotte

    (Columbia Business School)

  • David Skeel

    (University of Pennsylvania Law School)


We analyze a sample of large Chapter 11 cases to determine which factors motivate the choice of filing in one court over another when a choice is available. We focus in particular on the Delaware court, which became the most popular venue for large corporations in the 1990s. We find no evidence of agency problems governing the venue choice or affecting the outcome of the bankruptcy process. Instead, firm characteristics and court characteristics, particularly a court's level of experience, are the most important factors. We find that court experience manifests itself in both a greater ability to reorganize marginal firms and in reorganizing such firms faster. Delaware is similar to other high-experience courts in terms of the likelihood of reorganization controlling for firm characteristics, but is a standout in terms of speed. We estimate that a Delaware bankruptcy requires approximately 40% less time to complete than an equivalent case in another court.

Suggested Citation

  • Kenneth Ayotte & David Skeel, "undated". "Why Do Distressed Companies Choose Delaware? An Empirical Analysis of Venue Choice in Bankruptcy," Scholarship at Penn Law upenn_wps-1023, University of Pennsylvania Law School.
  • Handle: RePEc:bep:upennl:upenn_wps-1023

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hotchkiss, Edith Shwalb, 1995. " Postbankruptcy Performance and Management Turnover," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 50(1), pages 3-21, March.
    2. Roberta Romano, 1998. "Empowering Investors: A Market Approach to Securities Regulation," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm74, Yale School of Management.
    3. Povel, Paul, 1999. "Optimal "Soft" or "Tough" Bankruptcy Procedures," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(3), pages 659-684, October.
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    bankruptcy; Chapter 11; venue choice; forum shopping; Delaware; reorganization;

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