Bankruptcy Basics :: Securities Investor Protection Act (SIPA) ::
Typically, when a brokerage firm fails, the Securities Investor Protection Corporation ("SIPC") arranges the transfer of the failed brokerage's accounts to a different securities brokerage firm. If the SIPC is unable to arrange the accounts' transfer, the failed firm is liquidated. In that case, the SIPC sends investors either certificates for the stock that was lost or a check for the market value of the shares. Brokerage firms may be liquidated under the Bankruptcy Code, however, if the SIPC does not file an application for a protective decree with the district court or if the district court finds that customers of the brokerage firm are not in need of protection under the SIPA. 15 U.S.C. §§ 78eee.