The bankruptcy system is designed to work for the benefit of both sides. Debtors are relieved of a crushing financial burden while maximizing the value of their possessions, and their creditors receive as much money as possible after an extended period of likely getting nothing at all.
In the majority of circumstances, this is precisely how it works. Sometimes, though, the debtor and/or their creditors find that a bankruptcy court ruling is contrary to what they believe to be in their best interests. The bankruptcy appeals process is intended to remedy these situations, but like other aspects of bankruptcy law, it can be confusing. That’s why we’ve listed four important things you should know if you’re thinking about appealing a ruling in your case.
1. Not all rulings can be appealed
You may only appeal bankruptcy court orders, decrees, and judgments that are considered “final.” Examples include:
Orders denying or granting relief from the automatic stay
Orders dismissing a Chapter 13 filing
Orders on an objection to an exemption
Appellate courts tend to take a broader notion of “finality” in bankruptcy appeals versus other types. When determining whether to assert jurisdiction in your case, they consider factors such as:
The necessity of additional fact-finding on remand
The impact on the bankruptcy estate assets
The potential merits of further litigation
2. Timing is essential
The timing for filing a Notice of Appeal is typically shorter in bankruptcy cases. You must file your Notice and pay the required filing fees within 14 days of the date of the decision that you are appealing.
3. Your location determines which court hears your appeal
In approximately half of the U.S. federal districts, bankruptcy appeals are heard by the federal district court. Elsewhere, you may elect to go before a Bankruptcy Appellate Panel (BAP), which is a three-judge panel. Oklahoma, which is in the Tenth Circuit, uses a BAP, or you may elect to go to the Federal District Court.
4. You can “appeal” an appeal
If you are not satisfied with the decision of the federal district court or BAP, you can request an appeal from the federal Court of Appeals. From there, you can potentially take your case to the U.S. Supreme Court, but be warned: unlike lower courts, the Supreme Court can select the cases it wishes to hear, and bankruptcy cases are rarely a priority. If it declines to hear your case, the Court of Appeals decision is final.
Bankruptcy appeals are complex undertakings that can take time to resolve, so if you believe that your case requires an appeal, you definitely want an experienced Oklahoma bankruptcy attorney on your side. David Sisson is a certified consumer bankruptcy law specialist who has been helping people start afresh financially since 1990, and will use his experience and expertise to seek the best possible result for your appeal. Call us today!