The proposed Bankruptcy Code reforms, which have passed the U.S. House of Representatives and are expectedto be debated starting next week in the Senate, contain a little-analyzedprovision that would have serious implications for the way Chapter 11 casesfor large retailers are conducted.

Slipped into the 300-pagebills, known in the House as H.R. 833 and in the Senate as S. 625, aremeasures that would set an absolute deadline for retailers in bankruptcyto assume or reject real estate leases. Critics are calling this a giftto the shopping center lobby, but advocates argue it is a much needed reform.