Book Review: Bankruptcy Law Picture Book–A Brief Intro to the Law of Bankruptcy, in Pictures

Several times each month, we are pleased to republish a recent book review from the Canadian Law Library Review (CLLR). CLLR is the official journal of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL/ACBD), and its reviews cover both practice-oriented and academic publications related to the law.

Bankruptcy Law Picture Book: A Brief Intro to the Law of Bankruptcy, in Pictures. By Wela Quan. Toronto: Irwin Law, 2019. 178 p. Includes illustrations. ISBN 978-1-55221-519-7 (softcover) $30.00; ISBN 978-1-55221-520-3 (eBook) $30.00.

Reviewed by Krisandra Ivings
Reference Librarian
Supreme Court of Canada
In CLLR 45:4

Wela Quan’s Bankruptcy Law Picture Book serves as an illustrated introduction to bankruptcy law in Canada. Part comic and part study guide, the book takes readers through the bankruptcy proceedings of Bob, the unlucky stick figure and debtor. As Bob alternatingly tries to evade his creditors and begrudgingly follows through on his legal obligations, he is joined by characters such as Crabby Carl (a creditor), Broke Billy (Bob’s brother), and Able Annie the Administrator (a trustee), who help demonstrate concepts and procedures throughout the bankruptcy process.

Each page in Quan’s book has both an explanatory text, which briefly describes a concept in bankruptcy law, and a cartoon demonstrating how this principle applies to Bob’s proceeding. Organized similarly to Canadian bankruptcy law textbooks, concepts are broken down into 11 broad sections: insolvencies, bankruptcy proceedings, bankruptcy property, pre-bankruptcy transfers, contracts in bankruptcy, claims, priority creditors, how to get priority, receivership restructuring, and international insolvencies. Each chapter begins with a flow chart that serves both as a detailed table of contents for the chapter and a visual explanation of legal proceedings when applicable. These flow charts, as well as the timelines and numbered lists that are frequently used to delineate concepts or steps in the bankruptcy process, are a highlight, as they present ideas clearly and in a way that would help any student gain an overarching view of bankruptcy concepts.

Bankruptcy Law Picture Book markets itself as a “brief intro to the law of bankruptcy” and a “study guide,” and it stays true to this description. Its 178 pages, partially filled with cartoons, offer an overview rather than a comprehensive study on Canadian bankruptcy law. The text also deals only with the current state of law and does not provide an historical development or critical analysis; thus, it does not replace the function of a comprehensive bankruptcy text for those studying the area. Instead, it reads as one might imagine an organized student’s study notes would and is therefore a fitting companion text. However, while this visual guide is fun, its content is solidly rooted in law. The drawings add interest and whimsy, but the text does not sacrifice accurate legal terminology.

The book is noticeably devoid of any citations to external sources. While some applicable legislation is mentioned by name, these statutes are not fully cited, nor are there any mentions of cases or secondary sources. This lack of citations may make it difficult to verify the currency of content years down the line, and this brings the possibility that the text will go out of date relatively quickly; however, since the guide covers the topic in broad strokes, this probably wouldn’t happen without a major overhaul of Canadian bankruptcy law.

In all, the book would be a unique addition to an academic law library collection as a study guide or brief introduction to bankruptcy law for those completely uninitiated or preparing for an exam. Quan brings lightness and humour to this area of law that I’m sure many students would welcome.

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