Can Bankruptcy Court Decisions be Appealed?

by Peter Orville, Binghamton Bankruptcy Lawyer

March 1, 2012

If you lose a motion in Bankruptcy Court you may be able to file an appeal. But not all of the judge’s rulings that go against you can be appealed.

Only “final” judgments, orders, and decrees in Bankruptcy Court can be immediately appealed. For example, a bankruptcy court’s judgment determining dischargeability, an order on an objection to a debtor’s claim of exemption, an order dismissing a Chapter 13 case, and an order granting or denying relief from the automatic stay are all final orders that can be appealed.

Timing is very important. Within 14 days of the date of entry of the judgment, order, or decree appealed from, you must file a notice of appeal in the bankruptcy court and pay the appropriate filing fees.

Unless your jurisdiction has a Bankruptcy Appellate Panel (BAP), your appeal will be determined by the district court. If there is a BAP in your district, you can choose to pursue the appeal in either the BAP or the district court.

You may be able to get a “stay” pending appeal, but you have to ask for it and if granted, you may have to post a bond.  The issues that are likely to determine whether or not a stay will be granted include the likelihood of success on appeal, whether irreparable harm if the stay is denied, whether others will likely be harmed, and the public interest in granting the stay.

Usually the decision made by the bankruptcy court judge comes after a trial or hearing before the judge.  In an appeal, however, there is no new trial.  Instead, each side prepares and files a legal brief, and has an opportunity to make oral argument before the appellate court.

Not all adverse decisions should be appealed.  Be sure to seek guidance from your bankruptcy attorney on whether it makes sense to appeal your particular issue.

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Peter Orville is a bankruptcy lawyer in Binghamton, located in the Southern Tier of New York. He is a member and New York co-chair of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys.

Last modified: March 1, 2012