Order Denying confirmation of chapter 13 plan not final order for purposes of appeal.

In Bullard v. Blue Hill Savings Bank, No. 14-116, 2015 WL 1959040 (U.S. May 4, 2015), the United States Supreme Court resolved a split among several circuit courts of appeal and held that a bankruptcy court order denying confirmation of a chapter 13 plan where the individual debtor maintained the right to submit a modified plan (which would be pretty much every case that wasn’t dismissed along with denial of confirmation) was not a “final” order for purposes of appeal. The Court reasoned that “only plan confirmation—or case dismissal—alters the status quo and fixes the rights and obligations of the parties.” The Court explained that, denial of confirmation, where the debtor maintains the right to submit a modified plan, “changes little.” The Court further explained that knowledge of no guaranteed right to an immediate appeal of an order denying confirmation “should encourage the debtor to work with creditors and the trustee to develop a confirmable plan as promptly as possible.”

While Bullard involved denial of confirmation of a chapter 13 plan, there seems little doubt that if the identical issue came before it in a case under another chapter of the Bankruptcy Code, such as chapter 11 (which mostly deals with business bankruptcies), the Supreme Court would apply a substantially similar analysis to denial of confirmation of a plan. There is no principled reason why the Court would distinguish between denial of confirmation of a chapter 11 plan and denial of a chapter 13 plan because both chapter 11 and 13 of the Bankruptcy Code provide for restructuring of debt through plans of reorganization (although each has statutory provisions specific to each regarding confirmation of such plans).

Amended Bankruptcy Rules regarding appeals from bankruptcy court.

Effective December 1, 2014, that part of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure  (“Bankruptcy Rules”) dealing with bankruptcy appeals were substantially amended, principally to conform to the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure dealing with non-bankruptcy appeals. Note that, while the Bankruptcy Rules have changed (i.e., adding provisions, renumbering of old provisions, etc.), the local rules of District Courts and Bankruptcy Appellate Panels (BAP) may not have changed yet because those courts may be on different time schedules to issue amended rules for their courts. In those circumstances, the Bankruptcy Rules reflected in a District Court or BAP may still contain references to the prior Bankruptcy Rules. Thus, practitioners who do not frequently handle bankruptcy appeals should make sure they consider the amended Bankruptcy Rules, and corresponding Local Rules of the District Courts or BAP enacted in response to the Bankruptcy Rules, to ensure compliance with those Rules.