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Fact You Must Know About Pro Se Bankruptcy Litigation

Pro Se Bankruptcy Litigation

Many people may be too scared to represent themselves in court in any fashion, let alone traverse the proverbial murky waters of filing for bankruptcy without a lawyer. Even after the passage of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA) pro se representation has remained high. As of mid-2008, in fact, it was actually on the upswing, yielding nearly 20,000 filings per a three-month quarter.

Such trends in pro se representation are rather alarming to bankruptcy jurists and other experts on the subject, and not just in light of concurrent spikes in bankruptcy filings overall. The following are some considerations of the potential complications when declaring bankruptcy without a lawyer:

As evidenced by the tens of thousands of filings each year, pro se representation in bankruptcy court is not illegal. On the contrary, in terms of acceptability under the law, representing oneself in court for affairs of bankruptcy without a lawyer is perfectly admissible. That said, this does not exactly mean pro se representation is recommended.

One reason pro se filings are considered questionable is the nature of bankruptcy law. Perhaps more so than any other form of law, bankruptcy procedure is insistent on the exactitude and accuracy of the documentation filed. If self-representing debtors fail to include any forms at all amidst the act of applying, they may find their case dismissed, their ability to re-apply compromised, and their protection from creditors endangered. Even with bankruptcy software on the market, this can still be too complex for the average American to accomplish on his/her own.

Still before even getting to the actual hearing to confirm a liquidation or reorganization plan, the need to disclose all details correctly in a plan is of paramount concern. For those filing for bankruptcy without a lawyer, with neither the expertise in bankruptcy law nor a dialog with a professional to help catch all the possible sources of obligations via borrowing (i.e. credits and creditors), insolvent parties may be guilty of wrongdoing without knowing it. In breaking the rules, applicants may get off easy by simply having those unreported debts refused to be discharged. However, they may be charged with the crime of abuse/fraud.

On top of the possible unlawfulness of pro se representation, for it to even be effective a self-representing party has to have a solid familiarity with the statutes behind the workings of bankruptcy court. At the Federal level, all bankruptcy courts are bound by the provisions of Title 11, namely the Bankruptcy Code, as well as the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure.

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