Preliminary information released by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts suggests that in the wake of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA), the amount of work per case has risen significantly for bankruptcy courts. While filings have decreased sharply since the Act’s passage, each case seems to cost clerks and judges more of their time.
“The number of filings alone… should not be viewed as the sole indicator of overall workload,” said Judge Julia Gibbons of the 6th District. “BAPCPA created new docketing, noticing and hearing requirements that make addressing the petitions more complex and time-consuming.”
“The nature of our work shifted; it did not go away,” said George Prentice, a clerk of court for the Bankruptcy Court of the Western District of Texas. “More documents are filed in each case, reflecting the fact that the new law carries more requirements.”
“The number of externally filed documents has increased,” he added. “We quality control almost every document filed in a case, particularly if it is user-entered. That has to be a daily function of automated courts, because once something is filed it is instantly public and transparent.”
Other respondents echoed Prentice’s statements, noting that, since the BAPCPA, they’ve noticed an increase in pro se filings, which are filed without the help of a lawyer and require a more stringent quality review.
“More areas of the law are unsettled,” said Prentice. “More hearings are required to determine the proper way to interpret the new law.”
Source: Jacob Barron, NACM staff writer