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Bankruptcy Terms

A Primer on Adversary Proceedings

Posted on Thursday (June 10, 2004) at 11:49 pm to Bankruptcy Practice
Bankruptcy Procedure
Bankruptcy Terms
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Nassau Lawyer

adversary-proceedings in bankruptcy court on Long IslandWritten by Craig D. Robins, Esq.

Adversary Proceedings. Even what appears to be the simplest Chapter 7 consumer bankruptcy filing may result in an adversary proceeding which is basically a federal lawsuit brought within a pending bankruptcy proceeding. The Bankruptcy Rules provide that certain contested matters in bankruptcy proceedings must be litigated in this way. Bankruptcy Rule 7001 sets forth ten such matters. They include objections to discharge; determination of the validity, priority, or extent of a lien or interest in property of the estate; actions to recover property of the estate; and proceedings to sell property in which the debtor is only a part owner. Bankruptcy Rule 7001 et. seq., sets forth all of the rules applicable to adversary proceedings.

Proceedings to Determine The Dischargeability of a Debt. These are by far the most common adversary proceedings that the consumer bankruptcy practitioner may encounter. With the proliferation of consumers seeking to discharge credit card debt through bankruptcy, many credit card companies, banks and other lenders are actively reviewing petitions and credit usage histories to determine if the debtor obtained the debt by way of any fraudulent or improper means. Under code section 523, a creditor can contest the dischargeability of a particular debt that was incurred through false pretenses, fraud, use of false financial statements, embezzlement, or larceny.

Contesting the Entire Discharge. Bankruptcy code section 727 allows an interested party to contest the entire discharge for intentional concealment, transfer or destruction of property; unjustified failure to keep books and records; dishonesty in connection with the bankruptcy code; or failure to explain loss of assets. If a trustee requests a debtor to provide documents at the meeting of creditors and the debtor is uncooperative, the trustee will bring an adversary proceeding under this section.

Federal Rules Govern. Virtually all of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure regarding litigation apply to adversary proceedings. These rules are especially tailored to bankruptcy proceedings by Bankruptcy Rules 9001 et. seq. Leave your C.P.L.R. at home and get a copy of the Federal Rules. Sometimes the general practitioner is at a slight disadvantage because of an unfamiliarity with Federal law.

How Adversary Proceedings Are Commenced. The creditor or trustee will draft a complaint, setting forth the facts and allegations which the plaintiff believes justify the granting of relief against the debtor, and stating the relief requested. All adversary proceedings must be filed electronically through the court’s E.C.F. system. The court will also assign an adversary proceeding case number to the matter, which is different from the original bankruptcy case number. All adversary proceeding documents filed with the court must contain the full adversary proceeding caption, both case number and adversary proceeding case number, the type of chapter, and the name of the judge. The debtor can be referred to as either “debtor” or “defendant.”

Service. Most adversary proceedings are served pursuant to Bankruptcy Rule 7004(b) by first class mail upon both the debtor and his or her attorney, although service can be completed by other means as well. Service must also be made within 10 days of the summons date. Bankruptcy Rule 7004(f).

Be Aware of the Bar Date. In Chapter 7 proceedings, the court sets a statute of limitations for creditors to file objections to discharge. The bar date is 60 days from the date set for the first scheduled meeting of creditors. Bankruptcy Rules 4004 and 4007. Adjournment of the meeting of creditors does not affect the bar date. Failure to timely file a dischargeability adversary proceeding by the bar date will forever bar the creditor from objecting to discharge.

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Craig D. Robins, Esq. is a Long Island bankruptcy lawyer, who is focused primarily on helping individuals and families, find solutions to their debt problems. Read more »


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