The Uniform Fraudulent Conveyance Act was promulgated by the Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws in 1918. The Act has been adopted in 25 jurisdictions, including the Virgin Islands. it has also been adopted in the sections of the Bankruptcy Act of 1938 and the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978 that deal with fraudulent transfers and obligations.
The Uniform Act was a codification of the "better" decisions applying the Statute of 13 Elizabeth. See Analysis of H.R. 12339, 74th Cong., 2d Sess. 213 (1936). The English statute was enacted in some form in many states, but, whether or not so enacted, the voidability of fraudulent transfer was part of the law of every American jurisdiction. Since the intent to hinder, delay, or defraud creditors is seldom susceptible of direct proof, courts have relied on badges of fraud. The weight given these badges varied greatly from jurisdiction, and the Conference sought to minimize or eliminate the diversity by providing that proof of certain fact combinations would conclusively establish fraud. In the absence of evidence of the existence of such facts, proof of a fraudulent transfer was to depend on evidence of actual intent. An important reform effected by the Uniform Act was the elimination of any requirement that a creditor have obtained a judgment or execution returned unsatisfied before bringing an action to avoid a transfer as fraudulent. See American Surety Co. v. Conner, 251 N.Y. 1, 166 N.E. 783, 67 A.L.R. 244 (1929) (per C.J. Cardozo).
The Conference was persuaded in 1979 to appoint a committee to undertake a study of the Uniform Act with a view to preparing the draft of a revision. The Conference was influenced by the following considerations:
(1) The Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978 has made numerous changes in the section of that Act dealing with fraudulent transfers and obligations, thereby substantially reducing the correspondence of the provisions of the federal bankruptcy law on fraudulent transfers with the Uniform Act.
(2) The Committee on Corporate Laws of the Section of Corporations, Banking & Business Law of the American Bar Association, engaged in revising the Model Corporation Act, suggested that the Conference review provisions of the Uniform Act with a view to determining whether the Acts are consistent in respect to the treatment of dividend distributions.
(3) The Uniform Commercial Code, enacted at least in part by all 50 states, had substantially modified related rules of law regulating transfers of personal property, notably by facilitating the making and perfection of security transfers against attack by unsecured creditors.
(4) Debtors and trustees in a number of cases have avoided foreclosure of security interests by invoking the fraudulent transfer section of the Bankruptcy Reform Act.
(5) The Model Rules of Professional Conduct adopted by the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association on August 2, 1983, forbid a lawyer to counsel or to assist a client in conduct that the lawyer knows is fraudulent.
The Drafting Committee appointed by the Conference held its first meeting in January of 1983. A first reading of a draft of the revision of the Uniform Fraudulent Conveyance Act was had at the Conference's meeting in Boca Raton, Florida, on July 27, 1983. The Committee held four meetings in addition to a meeting held in connection with the Conference meeting in Boca Raton. Meetings were also attended by the following representatives of interested organizations:
Robert Rosenberg, Esq., of the American Bar Association;
Richard Cherin, Esq., of the Commercial Financial Services Committee of the Corporation, Banking and Business Law Section of the American Bar Association;
Robert Zinman, Esq., of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers;
Bruce Bernstein, Esq., of the National Commercial Finance Association;
Ernest E. Specks, Esq., of the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section of the American Bar Association.
The Committee determined to rename the Act the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act in recognition of its applicability to transfers of personal property as well as real property, "conveyance" having a connotation restricting it to a transfer of personal property. As noted in Comment (2) accompanying § 1(2) and Comment (8) accompanying § 4, however, this Act, like the original Uniform Act, does not purport to cover the whole law of voidable transfers and obligations. The limited scope of the original Act did not impair its effectiveness in achieving uniformity in the areas covered. See McLaughlin, Application of the Uniform Fraudulent Conveyance Act, 46 Harv.L.Rev. 404, 405 (1933).
The basic structure and approach of the Uniform Fraudulent Conveyance Act are preserved in the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act. There are two sections in the new Act delineating what transfers and obligations are fraudulent. Section 4(a) is an adaptation of three sections of the U.F.C.A.; § 5(a) is an adaptation of another section of the U.F.C.A.; and § 5(b) is new. One section of the U.F.C.A. (§ 8) is not carried forward into the new Act because deemed to be redundant in part and in part susceptible of inequitable application. Both Acts declare a transfer made or an obligation incurred with actual intent to hinder, delay, or defraud creditors to be fraudulent. Both Acts render a transfer made or obligation incurred without adequate consideration to be constructively fraudulent - i.e., without regard to the actual intent of the parties - under one of the following conditions:
(1) the debtor was left by the transfer or obligation with unreasonably small assets for a transaction or the business in which he was engaged;
(2) the debtor intended to incur, or believed that he would incur, more debts than he would be able to pay; or
(3) the debtor was insolvent at the time or as a result of the transfer or obligation.
As under the original Uniform Fraudulent Conveyance Act a transfer or obligation that is constructively fraudulent because insolvency concurs with or follows failure to receive adequate consideration is voidable only by a creditor in existence at the time the transfer occurs or the obligation is incurred. Either an existing or subsequent creditor may avoid a transfer or obligation for inadequate consideration when accompanied by the financial condition specified in § 4(a)(2)(i) or the mental state specified in § 4(a)(2)(ii).
Reasonably equivalent value is required in order to constitute adequate consideration under the revised Act. The revision follows the Bankruptcy Code in eliminating good faith on the part of the transferee or obligee as an issue in the determination of whether adequate consideration is given by a transferee or obligee. The new Act, like the Bankruptcy Act, allows the transferee or obligee to show good faith in defense after a creditor establishes that a fraudulent transfer has been made or a fraudulent obligation has been incurred. Thus a showing by a defendant that a reasonable equivalent has been given in good faith for a transfer or obligation is a complete defense although the debtor is shown to have intended to hinder, delay, or defraud creditors.
A good faith transferee or obligee who has given less than a reasonable equivalent is nevertheless allowed a reduction in liability to the extent of the value given. The new Act, like the Bankruptcy Code, eliminates the provision of the Uniform Fraudulent Conveyance Act that enables a creditor to attack a security transfer on the ground that the value of the property transferred is disproportionate to the debt secured. The premise of the new Act is that the value of the interest transferred for security is measured by and thus corresponds exactly to the debt secured. Foreclosure of a debtor's interest by a regularly conducted, noncollusive sale on default under a mortgage or other security agreement may not be avoided under the Act as a transfer for less than a reasonably equivalent value.
The definition of insolvency under the Act is adapted from the definition of the term in the Bankruptcy Code. Insolvency is presumed from proof of a failure generally to pay debts as they become due.
The new Act adds a new category of fraudulent transfer, namely, a preferential transfer by an insolvent insider to a creditor who had reasonable cause to believe the debtor to be insolvent. An insider is defined in much the same way as in the Bankruptcy Code and includes a relative, also defined as in the Bankruptcy Code, a director or officer of a corporate debtor, a partner, or a person in control of a debtor. This provision is available only to an existing creditor. Its premise is that an insolvent debtor is obliged to pay debts to creditors not related to him before paying those who are insiders.
The new Act omits any provision directed particularly at transfers or obligations of insolvent partnership debtors. Under § 8 of the Uniform Fraudulent Conveyance Act any transfer made or obligation incurred by an insolvent partnership to a partner is fraudulent without regard to intent or adequacy of consideration. So categorical a condemnation of a partnership transaction with a partner may unfairly prejudice the interests of a partner's separate creditors. The new Act also omits as redundant a provision in the original Act that makes fraudulent a transfer made or obligation incurred by an insolvent partnership for less than a fair consideration to the partnership.
Section 7 lists the remedies available to creditors under the new Act. It eliminates as unnecessary and confusing a differentiation made in the original Act between the remedies available to holders of matured claims and those holding unmatured claims. Since promulgation of the Uniform Fraudulent Conveyance Act the Supreme Court has imposed restrictions on the availability and use of prejudgment remedies. As a result many states have amended their statutes and rules applicable to such remedies, and it is frequently unclear whether a state's procedures include a prejudgment remedy against a fraudulent transfer or obligation. A bracketed paragraph is included in Section 7 for adoption by those states that elect to make such a remedy available.
Section 8 prescribes the measure of liability of a transferee or obligee under the Act and enumerates defenses. Defenses against avoidance of a preferential transfer to an insider under § 5(b) include an adaptation of defenses available under § 547(c)(2) and (4) of the Bankruptcy Code when such a transfer is sought to be avoided as a preference by the trustee in bankruptcy. In addition a preferential transfer may be justified when shown to be made pursuant to a good faith effort to stave off forced liquidation and rehabilitate the debtor. Section 8 also precludes avoidance, as a constructively fraudulent transfer, of the termination of a lease on default or the enforcement of a security interest in compliance with Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code.
The new Act includes a new section specifying when a transfer is made or an obligation is incurred. The section specifying the time when a transfer occurs is adapted from Section 548(d) of the Bankruptcy Code. Its premise is that if the law prescribes a mode for making the transfer a matter of public record or notice, it is not deemed to be made for any purpose under the Act until it has become such a matter of record or notice.
The new Act also includes a statute of limitations that bars the right rather than the remedy on expiration of the statutory periods prescribed. The law governing limitations on actions to avoid fraudulent transfers among the states is unclear and full of diversity. The Act recognizes that laches and estoppel may operate to preclude a particular creditor from pursuing a remedy against a fraudulent transfer or obligation even though the statutory period of limitations has not run.