Bankruptcy Laws: Shareholder Loan

Understanding Bankruptcy Laws: A Deep Dive Into Shareholder Loans

Bankruptcy can be a complex and daunting process for both companies and shareholders. A vital element of this process is understanding how shareholder loans are treated, particularly in the context of bankruptcy laws. This article explores the intricacies of bankruptcy laws and their implications for shareholder loans.

Understanding Bankruptcy Laws

Bankruptcy laws dictate the procedure for declaring that a company or individual cannot repay their debts. These laws are designed to help creditors recover a part of what they are owed while also providing the debtor with a fresh start.

The Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act of Canada outlines the hierarchy of creditors and how they will be paid in a bankruptcy situation. Understanding this hierarchy is critical in determining where a shareholder loan fits into the picture.

Categorizing Creditors in Bankruptcy

Creditors in a bankruptcy are classified into different categories based on their priority. These classes are defined in Section 136 of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.

Shareholder Loans and Bankruptcy

When shareholders lend money to a company, unless specific steps were taken at the time of the loan, these loans are generally categorized as an unsecured creditor. This classification determines how they will rank in terms of repayment in the event of a bankruptcy.

Secured and Unsecured Creditors

In a typical business bankruptcy, unsecured creditors, including shareholder loans, rank behind secured creditors. These secured creditors are lenders who hold assets as collateral for their loans. This means that they have a higher priority when it comes to repayment.

Preferred Creditors

In addition to secured creditors, unsecured creditors also rank behind preferred creditors. Preferred creditors can include certain wage claims and some rent. The specific details of who constitutes a preferred creditor can vary and should be reviewed in the context of each individual bankruptcy.

Pro-rata Ranking for Unsecured Creditors

After secured and preferred creditors have been repaid, any remaining funds are then distributed among unsecured creditors, including shareholder loans, on a pro-rata basis. Pro-rata means that each creditor will receive a percentage of the distribution proportional to their percentage of the total unsecured debt.

Tax Implications for Shareholders

If a shareholder does not receive full repayment of their loan at the end of the bankruptcy, they may be able to write off a portion of this loss on their taxes. This write-off is referred to as an Allowable Business Investment Loss. Shareholders should consult with a tax advisor to understand the potential tax implications.

Advice for Shareholders

When dealing with bankruptcy, it’s crucial for shareholders to understand their rights and potential outcomes. If you have any specific questions related to your situation, don’t hesitate to reach out to a bankruptcy professional or legal advisor.


Understanding bankruptcy laws and where shareholder loans fit into this equation is essential for any shareholder. By understanding these laws, shareholders can better protect their investments and navigate the bankruptcy process.

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