Last month, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York published proposed amendments to its local rules effective December 1, 2016 (the “Proposed Amendments”). Links to the Bankruptcy Court’s notice to the bar with respect to the Proposed Amendments and the full text of the Proposed Amendments are provided below. The Proposed Amendments are currently open for public comment. The comment deadline is November 14, 2016 by 5:00 p.m.
Below is summary of substantive changes effected by the Proposed Amendments which may be of interest to practitioners:
- Local Rule 1002-1 (Filing of Petition): the amended rule will require, to the extent practicable, that when a prospective chapter 11 debtor or chapter 15 petitioner anticipates the need to seek orders for immediate relief, counsel must contact the United States Trustee’s office and the Clerk’s office prior to filing the petition to advise them of the anticipated filing and the matters on which the debtor or petitioner intend to seek immediate relief.
- The proposed amendment aligns the SDNY with a similar local rule that is already in effect in Delaware.
- Local Rule 2002-1 (Notice of Proposed Action or Order When Not Proceeding by Motion): the current rule – which provides a procedure for presenting orders to the court when the Bankruptcy Code requires “notice and a hearing” but a motion is not mandatory – will be moved and combined with current Local Rule 9074-1, discussed below.
- Local Rule 3011-1 (Disposition of Unclaimed Funds Under a Confirmed Chapter 11 Plan): this will be a new rule. In summary, it will require a chapter 11 plan to provide for the distribution of unclaimed property that cannot be distributed pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 347(b) by either reallocating the property pursuant to the absolute priority rule, or pursuant to the plan’s distribution scheme, or donating it to a designated not-for-profit, non-religious organization.
- Pursuant to section 347(b) of the Bankruptcy Code, unclaimed funds revert to the debtor or the entity acquiring assets to a plan. The proposed official comment to the rule explains that the rule is designed to address a seeming infirmity of § 347(b) in the context of liquidating chapter 11 plans in which no entity acquires most of the debtor’s assets and the debtor essentially ceases to exist.
- Local Rule 3018-1 (Certification of Acceptance or Rejection of Plans in Chapter 9 and Chapter 11 Cases): The current rule requires the submission of certified ballot reports, certifying the amounts and numbers of accepting or rejecting cases to the court seven days in advance of a confirmation hearing. The proposed amendment will require that the ballot report also certify as to the amount and number of any ballots not counted.
- Local Rule 3021-1 (Post-Confirmation Requirements in Chapter 11 Cases): The proposed amendment will add a subsection to the existing rule, requiring that, “as a condition to serving as a liquidating trustee or a successor trustee to a post confirmation liquidating, or similar trust, the liquidating plan shall specify what steps the trustee shall take to monitor and ensure the safety of the trusts’ assets.”
- Local Rule 5075-1 (Clerk’s Use of Outside Services and Agents; Claims and Noticing Agents): the current rule governs the use of claims agents. In addition to the rule’s existing provisions, the proposed amendment will revise subsection (c) and add a new subsection (d) to provide, respectively, that: (1) “Upon the request of the Clerk, the agent must provide public access to the Claims Registers, including complete proofs of claim with attachments, if any, without charge” and (2) the order providing for the retention of a claims agent must provide for “(i) the discharge of the agent at the conclusion of the case, or as otherwise provided by entry of an additional order by the Court; and (ii) the disposition of any records, documents and the like, that have been provided or delivered to such agent, whether in paper or electronic form in accordance with the Protocol for the Employment of Claims Agents.”
- Local Rule 7052-1 (Proposed Findings of Facts and Conclusions of Law): the current rule governs the submission of proposed finding of fact and conclusions of law. The proposed amendment effects two substantive changes: (1) Whereas previously, parties were allowed by right to submit counter-findings and conclusions (unless the Court ordered simultaneous submissions), the amendment requires parties to request the Court’s permission to submit such counter-findings and conclusions. (2) The amendment strikes the portion of the rule that prohibited proposed findings and conclusions from forming any part of the record on appeal (unless otherwise ordered by the Court). Accordingly, the content of the record on appeal will no longer be limited by the rule.
- Local Rule 8010-1 (Notice to the Bankruptcy Court of the Filing of Preliminary Motion with an Appellate Court): this will be a new rule. It requires a party filing a preliminary motion (as defined in Bankruptcy Rule 8010(c)) in the district court or the court of appeals, to also file that motion and notice thereof on the bankruptcy court’s docket.
- Local Rule 9006-1 (Time for Service and Filing of Motions and Answering Papers): the current rule addresses the notice period and objection deadline for motions for which the notice period is not otherwise prescribed in the Bankruptcy Rules. The existing rule is silent as to the right to submit reply papers. The proposed amendment addresses the silence by providing that: “reply papers shall be served so as to ensure actual receipt not later than 4:00 p.m. three (3) days before the return date.”
- The proposed amendment aligns the SDNY with the rule already in effect in EDNY.
- Local Rule 9018-1 (Motions to Publicly File Redacted Documents and to File Unredacted Documents Under Seal): this will be a new rule. It provides a uniform procedure for the submission of sealing motions, including the substantive content that must be asserted in and the documents which must be included with the sealing motion.
- The submission of sealing motions is currently governed by each Judge’s individualized Chambers’ rules.
- Local Rule 9037-1 (Redaction of Personal Identifiers): this will be a new rule. The rule will provide guidance and procedure with respect to the redaction of personal data identifiers, placing that responsibility solely on counsel, parties in interest and non-parties (e., not the Clerk or claim agent if one has been appointed). If a party seeks to redact personal data from a document or proof of claim already filed with the Court, such party must contact the Clerk’s office to request that the data be restricted from public view and file a motion and pay the associated fee.
- Local Rule 9074-1 (Submission, Settlement or Presentment of Order, Judgment, or Decree): as noted above, current rule 2002-2 will be moved and combined, in toto, to this rule. Aside from certain stylistic revisions and reformatting resulting from combining the two rules, the amendment adds two provisions: (1) In the circumstances addressed by current Rule 2002-2 in which Bankruptcy Code requires “notice and hearing” but a motion is not mandatory and a party presents an order to the Court following the procedure outlined in the local rule, the amendment makes clear that no hearing will be held by the court unless timely objection is filed. (2) The amendment makes clear that in the case of a motion, application or any pleading submitted by notice of presentment (as opposed to notice of hearing), such pleading must include a copy of the proposed order and the moving party must promptly submit a copy of the proposed order to chambers after the presentment date if there has been no objection or hearing date scheduled.
- The Proposed Amendments also will repeal Local Rules 7008-1, 7012-1, 9027-1, and 9027-2 in light of the revisions to National Bankruptcy Rules 7008, 7012 and 9027 that were effected since their enactment in April of 2012. These local rules were all enacted to address issues raised by the Supreme Court’s decision in Stern v. Marshal.