Deadline to Comment on proposed amendments to Bankruptcy Rules is February 15, 2013
The Judicial Conference of the United States’ Advisory Committees on Appellate, Bankruptcy, Criminal, and Evidence Rules have proposed amendments to their respective rules and forms, and requested that the proposals be circulated to the bench, bar, and public for comment. The proposed amendments, rules committee reports explaining the proposed changes, and other information are posted on the Judiciary’s website and are available here:[download_link link=”http://chapter11dallas.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/rules-published-comment.pdf” target=”blank”]Proposed Rules.[/download_link]
All comments on these proposed amendments will be considered by the rules committees, which are composed of experienced trial and appellate lawyers, judges, and scholars. Any comments on the proposed amendments, are due no later than February 15, 2013. All comments concerning the proposed amendments may be submitted electronically to the [email_link email=”email@example.com”]Rules Comments Email[/email_link] or in hard copy to the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure, Administrative Office of the United States Courts, Suite 7-240, Washington, D.C., 20544. All comments are made part of the official record and are available to the public.
The proposed amendments would become effective on December 1, 2014, if they are approved, with or without revision, by the relevant advisory committee, the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure, the Judicial Conference, and the Supreme Court, and if Congress does not act to defer, modify, or reject them. The revisions to the Official Bankruptcy Forms would become effective on December 1, 2013, if they are approved by the rules committees and the Judicial Conference.
The revised forms, published for comment, are all used by individual debtors and include the fee waiver and installment fee forms, income and expense forms, and the means test forms, replacing previous forms. The comments submitted by the public will be reviewed in coming months and will be used to fine-tune the forms.
“We recognized that the debtors filing as individuals may not have the assistance of a lawyer, and they may not be as sophisticated about finances as, for example, a large corporate debtor. Our goal was to make the official bankruptcy forms more user-friendly and less error-prone,” said Bankruptcy Judge Elizabeth Perris (D. Or.). Perris heads an ad hoc group of members drawn from the Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Bankruptcy Rules and representatives of bankruptcy-related groups. The Advisory Committee makes recommendations to the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure about bankruptcy rules and forms.
An expert in forms design helped to reformat forms and rephrase questions in the filing package for individuals. An initial challenge was to create forms in ordinary, conversational English. Another challenge was to provide appropriate pointers to information a filer might need to complete the form, such as the median income of their home state, or information on means testing. The revisions produced forms with a more intuitive layout and a uniform feel, with clearer instructions that explain the process, with prompts and checklists, and with separate, more extensive instruction sheets.
“In the twenty years since the last forms overhaul, we’ve moved from paper to electronic files,” said Perris. “We wanted to take advantage of available information technology, not only for online fillable forms but for the storage of data. Authorized users will be able to produce customized reports and display information in multiple formats.”
Also, because the new forms make clear at the outset what information will be needed for completion, the complexities of filing for bankruptcy are underscored. As a consequence, more unrepresented debtors may seek representation rather than file pro se.