Tools of trade

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The tools of trade are items that are exempt from attachment under bankruptcy law or from seizure.


The exemption exists in many jurisdictions. For examples:

All of these owe this exemption to the provisions for bankrupts that existed in English common law before it was codified by statute. [10]

What exactly constitute one's tools of trade comes down to case law, [11] and the case law of the United States exemplifies how complex such case law often is. Farmers have claimed mechanical cream separators. [11] A professional forest guide claimed his canoe as exempt, but was not allowed to claim his rifle. [11] A car used only for commuting to work is not a tool of the trade, but a motor vehicle can be, including a farm tractor. [12] Breeding stock can be, as can be a logging truck and trailer. [12] However, some cases have limited the exemption to personal hand tools and not large machinery or power tools. [12] [11]

England and Wales

Under the Courts Act 2003, "such tools, books, vehicles and other items of equipment as are necessary to the execution debtor for use personally by him in his employment, business or vocation" are exempted from seizure under a writ of execution issued from the High Court. [13] Under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, "such tools, books, vehicles and other items of equipment as are necessary for use personally in the defendant's employment, business or vocation" are exempted from seizure under section 47C(1) of that Act. [14]

Related Research Articles

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Bankruptcy in the United Kingdom is divided into separate local regimes for England and Wales, for Northern Ireland, and for Scotland. There is also a UK insolvency law which applies across the United Kingdom, since bankruptcy refers only to insolvency of individuals and partnerships. Other procedures, for example administration and liquidation, apply to insolvent companies. However, the term 'bankruptcy' is often used when referring to insolvent companies in the general media.

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Cayman Islands bankruptcy law

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Anguillan bankruptcy law

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Cross-border insolvency regulates the treatment of financially distressed debtors where such debtors have assets or creditors in more than one country. Typically, cross-border insolvency is more concerned with the insolvency of companies that operate in more than one country rather than bankruptcy of individuals. Like traditional conflict of laws rules, cross-border insolvency focuses upon three areas: choice of law rules, jurisdiction rules and enforcement of judgment rules. However, in relation to insolvency, the principal focus tends to be the recognition of foreign insolvency officials and their powers.


What supports what

  1. Archbold, Chitty & Prentice 1840, p. 826.
  2. Holt 1827, p. 551.
  3. Ringwood 1902, p. 73.
  4. The Bankruptcy Act 1914, section 38(2). This provision was amended by the Insolvency Act 1976. See further (1987) 106 Law Notes 53
  5. Wood 2007, p. 846.
  6. Lewis & Rose 1978, p. 117.
  7. Turner 1997, p. 956.
  8. Ziegel 2003, p. 22.
  9. Ziegel 2003, p. 66.
  10. NDLR 2010, p. 563.
  11. 1 2 3 4 Black 1922, p. 552.
  12. 1 2 3 Salerno & Kroop 2007, p. 554.
  13. The Courts Act 2003, Schedule 7, paragraph 9(3)(a). This replaces section 138(3A)(a)(i) of the Supreme Court Act 1981, which was inserted by section 15(1) of the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990.
  14. The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, section 47C(2)(b) and (4)(a)


  • Archbold, John Frederick; Chitty, Thomas; Prentice, Samuel (1840). Archbold's Practice of the Court of Queen's Bench. H. Sweet.
  • Black, Henry Campbell (1922). A Treatise on the Law and Practice of Bankruptcy: Under the Act of Congress of 1898 and Its Amendments. Kansas City: Vernon Law Book Company. ISBN   9781584776062.
  • Holt, Francis Ludlow (1827). The Bankrupt Laws, as Established by the New Act, 6 Geo. IV. C. 16. London: Joseph Butterworth and Son.
  • Lewis, Arndell Neil; Rose, Dennis John (1978). Lewis's Australian bankruptcy law (7th ed.). Law Book Company. ISBN   9780455196978.
  • Ringwood, Richard (1902). "Property divisible amongst creditors, and administration of property". The Principles of Bankruptcy. London: Stevens and Haynes. ISBN   9785875073076.
  • Salerno, Thomas J.; Kroop, Jordan A. (2007). "Liquidation cases". Bankruptcy Litigation and Practice: A Practitioner's Guide. Aspen Publishers Online. ISBN   9780735561939.
  • Turner, Clive (1997). Australian Commercial Law (21st ed.). LBC Information Services. ISBN   9780455214665.
  • Wood, Philip R. (2007). Principles of International Insolvency. Sweet & Maxwell. ISBN   9781847032102.
  • Ziegel, Jacob S. (2003). "Country Surveys". Comparative Consumer Insolvency Regimes: A Canadian Perspective. Hart Publishing. ISBN   9781841132723.
  • "Property exempt from process". North Dakota Law Review. 86. 2010.

Further reading