As we are entering the second week of the government shutdown, we seem to have more questions than answers regarding the impact of the shutdown on the bankruptcy Courts, those involved in active bankruptcy cases, and potential filers. Since the Department of Justice falls under the wing of the “non-essential” government departments, there is reason for bankruptcy filers and potential bankruptcy filers to be alarmed. On September 26, 2013, The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts for the Federal Judiciary issued the following statement:
“Following a government shutdown on October 1, 2013, the federal Judiciary will remain open for business for approximately 10 business days. On or around October 15, 2013, the Judiciary will reassess its situation and provide further guidance. All proceedings and deadlines remain in effect as scheduled, unless otherwise advised.”
What does this mean? Prior to October 15th, everything should remain the same. All creditors meetings will continue as scheduled. Beginning October 15th, however, we can anticipated that all bankruptcy proceedings will be delayed. All non-critical civil litigation will be postponed and non-essential court employees may be put on unpaid leave.
If you are in an active bankruptcy, your creditors meeting could be delayed or cancelled, it may take longer for your chapter 13 plan to be confirmed, and it may take longer for the final discharge to be entered (to name a few). There will be a (minimal) staff available at the Bankruptcy Court to perform essential functions, including accepting new cases and proceedings for filing and hearing cases and controversies where essential to protect property.
If you have any further questions on how you may be impacted, please call the Law Office of Matthew C. Swanson.