Court Adopts Amendments to Local Rules Effective Dec. 1, 2016

Release Date: 
Mon, 11/21/2016

Amendments to Local Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure and Local Forms

The Court has adopted amendments to the Local Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure for the Western District of Washington, as well as amendments to Local Bankruptcy Forms, and a new Local Bankruptcy Form.  The amended local rules and forms will be effective December 1, 2016.  Copies of the General Order adopting the amendments, a redlined version of the local rules, redlined versions of the two amended local forms, and the new local form for requesting special notice, are attached below. The rule amendments will also be discussed at the various bench bar meetings to be held in early January, 2017.

Highlights of the Rule Changes

  • Rule 2002-1(b) clarifies noticing responsibility generally, primarily reflecting current practice except that the rule transfers to the panel trustee the responsibility to notice the Final Report and Application for Compensation.
  • Rule 2002-1(k) and the related form for Request for Special Notice are NEW. The change to the Request for Special Notice reflects the realities of noticing in an electronic filing environment and also seeks to curb the improper use of the Request for Special Notice event in the district. Under the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, special notice is available in limited circumstances as defined under FRBP 2002(i). See more on noticing below.
  • Rule 2003-1(b) clarifies the procedure for obtaining a continuance/modification of the 341 meeting of creditors.
  • Rule 2015-1(c) requires an individual chapter 11 debtor to file a projected budget within 14 days of the petition.
  • Rule 3015-1(d) clarifies the procedure in a chapter 13 for parties to obtain strict compliance language without a contested hearing.
  • The Chapter 13 Plan Confirmation Plan Status report, formerly required by LBR 3015-1(f), has been eliminated.
  • Rule 4001-1(c) specifies the information required in a motion seeking relief from stay on real property.
  • The procedure for a motion to reopen is clarified in Rule 5010-1, including to allow the debtor to request reopening on an ex parte basis.  A request for substantive relief cannot be combined with an ex parte motion to reopen.
  • Rule 9013-1 is modified to clarify service requirements, clarify the timing of a responsive pleading when a hearing date is continued, and, in a comment, address the issue of an additional 3 days for mailing. In addition, the negative notice process for dismissal of a chapter 13 case has been removed.

Noticing Practices Generally

Several rule amendments and form changes are part of a larger design to update and refine local noticing practices in recognition of the use of electronic filing and noticing.

  • Notice of Appearance.The revised rules clarify that a Notice of Appearance does not need to be filed by an attorney appearing on behalf of a client; the act of using an ECF account to docket a pleading creates the attorney/party association within ECF and ensures that the attorney will receive electronic notice of all activity in that case. LBR 5005-1(b)(2).
  • Maintain User Information. ECF participants must maintain current contact information in ECF and do that by maintaining their ECF account. For an electronic filer, written change of contact information does not need to be placed on the docket.  LBR 5005-1(a)(3).
  • Request for Special Notice. Many counsel are in the habit of using the Request for Special Notice like a Notice of Appearance or to monitor case activity.  This broad usage of a Request for Special Notice will no longer be allowed.  Requests for special notice must be made by docketing the new Local Form 11 (below) and are only appropriate in situations defined under FRBP 2002(i). Remember that attorneys who are ECF filers and have docketed anything to a case will receive electronic notice of all filings in that case without the need to request special notice. ECF filers who wish to follow a case without being a party may use the ECF Courtesy Notice event.
  • Responsibility for Mailing Matrix. Debtors' counsel are reminded of their responsibility regarding the accuracy of the mailing matrix. Amendments to the initial creditor list and balance of schedules are to be filed on the court docket, accompanied with a pdf of the additional creditors in matrix format, and a creditor upload into ECF. The debtor is required to give notice of the amendment under FRBP 1009(a) and provide newly added creditors with the 341 notice including the complete social security number or individual taxpayer identification number of the debtor, even if the 341 meeting has already occurred. LBR 1009-1(c).