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Almost every year, changes are made to the set of rules that govern how bankruptcy cases are managed — the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure. The changes address issues identified by an Advisory Committee made up of federal judges, bankruptcy attorneys, and others.

Rule Amendments. This year the rule amendments, which go into effect on December 1, 2014, mainly address bankruptcy appeals, as well as an important one on service of a summons (discussed below).

  • Follow this link for a copy of the amendments, in both clean and redline, together with the transmittal letters and helpful Advisory Committee comments.  
  • This year’s rule changes include revisions to the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure governing bankruptcy appeals, including direct appeals from a district court exercising bankruptcy jurisdiction, rule and form revisions regarding elections to appeal to a bankruptcy appellate panel or a district court, rules favoring the use of electronic notice in bankruptcy appeals, the impact on a bankruptcy appeal of a post-judgment motion for a new trial or to amend a judgment, and technical amendments to implement these revisions. 

No Waiting On Service Of A Summons. Aside from the appeals-related amendments, one rule change will impact every bankruptcy lawyer that files an adversary proceeding, the bankruptcy term for a lawsuit filed within a bankruptcy case.

  • Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 7004(e) has been revised to require service of a summons in an adversary proceeding within seven days of its issuance, cutting in half the fourteen day time period that had previously been permitted.
  • Although nationwide service of process via U.S. mail is still allowed as before, the summons and complaint will need to be served promptly after issuance of the summons. Otherwise, the originally issued summons will become “stale” — meaning ineffective — and a new summons will have to be issued and promptly served.
  • Why the change? In adversary proceedings, Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 7012(a) provides that a defendant has 30 days from the date the summons is issued to respond, not from the date of service. The rule change will give defendants an extra week, give or take depending on the mail, to respond to a complaint.

Revised Bankruptcy Forms And Fees. To implement the rule amendments, several national bankruptcy forms will also be revised. Copies of the revised bankruptcy forms are available at the link in this sentence, and you should also check your local bankruptcy court’s website for local rule and form revisions. There are also fee changes, specifically, the fee for direct appeals from the bankruptcy court to the court of appeals goes up, and a new $25 fee kicks in for redacting documents previously filed in a bankruptcy case.