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Nord Travel on HILLSDALE COLLEGE bankruptcy DATING BACK TO the ancient Romans, bankruptcy has been the course of action for when a business or individual is unable to repay outstanding debts owed to creditors, or avoids repayment. In the last 400 years, governments have put formal laws in place that penalize debtors, while at the same time protecting the rights of creditors. Bankruptcy, in its early form, was viewed as debtor fraud. Those who were bankrupt were severely punished and laws were created to ensure creditors were repaid. Bankruptcies mainly took place in the business world and were involuntary, in that a business was charged with bankruptcy when it could not repay creditors. The penalties for merchants and individuals charged with bankruptcy included prison, public flogging, and in some instances, execution. The meaning of bankruptcy has changed dramatically in today’s society. Nord Travel 2016.