Are You Receiving Notice of a Bankruptcy Filing as Soon as You Could Be

Are You Receiving Notice of a Bankruptcy Filing as Soon as You Could Be

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Have you heard of the Bankruptcy Noticing Center (BNC)? What about Electronic Bankruptcy Noticing (EBN)? Well, if you haven't yet discovered these efficient bankruptcy noticing options, there's no time like the present. The BNC was developed by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts in 1994 to meet the clerk's offices' challenge of preparing and serving millions of bankruptcy notices and orders to the public in a timely and cost-effective manner. To accomplish this goal, the BNC uses advanced systems technology to provide an efficient centralized process for preparing, producing and sending (via mail or electronic transmission) bankruptcy notices. Currently, the BNC operates two data center facilities in Reston, Va., and Logan, Utah, that retrieve case data each day from bankruptcy courts throughout the country by electronic polling and paper.

While the centralized noticing features of the BNC have resulted in great efficiency and cost savings to the judiciary, its one potential negative side effect for mail recipients has been the sometimes lengthy delay in receiving mail. Under its contract, the BNC is given two days to process the electronic transmission from the court, and from there the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) typically takes another two to three days to complete delivery. This results in an average delivery time of at least five days. However, in recent months, we have seen a further delay in the postal service side as a result of the new procedures adopted following the anthrax incidents.

Plainly, the judiciary has no control over the delivery time by the postal service; however, we can and do offer several highly efficient alternative methods for receiving court notices. Enter EBN.

Electronic Bankruptcy Noticing

EBN is a free service that electronically transmits bankruptcy notices, and in some cases court orders, to those who request it, in record time. Since its inception two years ago, enrollment in the EBN noticing program has been steadily growing. The clear reasons for the success of the program are that subscribers receive notices days faster than through the USPS, the service is free and it's easy to implement. In fact, subscribers to any of the three electronic services discussed below receive same-day service compared with the USPS delivery times of five to seven days. This is because the BNC begins transmitting the electronic notices the same evening as they are retrieved from the court.

In lieu of paper notices, EBN offers three options for receipt of bankruptcy notice data:

  • Internet E-Mail: a fast and convenient service option
  • Fax: also faster than regular mail
  • Electronic Data Interchange (EDI): For high-volume recipients (200 or more notices per week) who want to automatically process data using computer database-to-computer database transfers (the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is one of the judiciary's top EDI participants).

Presently, 85 of the 90 bankruptcy courts participate in the [electronic bankruptcy noticing] program.

Presently, 85 of the 90 bankruptcy courts participate in the EBN program.1 The requirements for enrolling differ depending on whether you choose e-mail, fax or EDI delivery. In addition, in compliance with Bankruptcy Rule 9036, recipients must request electronic noticing services in writing. To accomplish this, interested users sign a noticing agreement with the court to ensure understanding of the EBN process and roles of the parties. These agreements are either submitted to the court or to the BNC, depending on the court's preference. In addition, if a recipient normally receives notices for other creditors/interested parties, an Evidence of Authority form is available for this purpose. This mainly applies to business subscribers with subsidiary company names or to law firms interested in establishing an office-wide e-mail account or fax number for the convenience of all members of the firm. All of the necessary documents for enrolling in the EBN service—whether using e-mail, fax or EDI—are available on the BNC web site,2 You can also contact the BNC at its toll free help line, (877) 837-3424.

Internet E-Mail Option

If you choose the e-mail delivery option, your e-mail system must be able to provide a confirmation that the notices were successfully delivered to your mailbox in order to comply with Fed.R.Bankr.P. 9036. This confirmation can be met by either (1) ensuring that your e-mail account is Delivery Status Notification (DSN) compliant; or (2) if your e-mail provider is not DSN compliant, you can still check to see if your provider is capable of providing an automatic, predefined e-mail response upon receipt of an incoming message. A DSN compliant e-mail provider sends confirmation to the BNC that the e-mail was delivered to your mailbox. Unfortunately, we have found that a number of the larger consumer-oriented e-mail providers are not DSN compliant (such as AOL, Yahoo, MSN, Mindspring and Compuserve). One way to determine if your e-mail system is DSN compliant is to take the quick systems test provided on the EBN site under the heading "Becoming an EBN Noticing Partner for Internet E-mail." Detailed information about the Internet e-mail option also is available on the BNC web site.

Fax Delivery Option

The process of enrolling in the fax delivery option of the EBN program requires only two simple steps: (1) have an open fax line and working machine in place for notice transmittals in the evenings, and (2) execute a noticing agreement and submit it to either the court or to the BNC, depending on the court's preference. The BNC maintains a list of which courts have delegated the sign-up process to the BNC and which accept them at the court. Visit the BNC web site to obtain this information as well as other specific fax-delivery procedures.

With both the Internet e-mail and fax delivery options, the noticing program includes an automatic 30-day redundant mode phase to confirm that the process is working properly before receipt of the paper notices cease. As an additional safeguard, the BNC automatically sends a paper notice if, after three delivery attempts, it fails to receive positive confirmation that the electronic transmission (e-mail or fax) was successful.

Electronic Data Interchange

Finally, the remaining option for electronic bankruptcy noticing is called Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). This option is particularly useful for creditors that receive thousands of bankruptcy notices a month. Such users can replace paper with a computer-to-computer process, providing the capability for processing bankruptcy noticing information at a fraction of the cost of manual methods. In addition, creditors can reduce their processing expenses and improve data accuracy by replacing manual processes with automated procedures. The BNC formats bankruptcy noticing data in EDI and transmits the information to an electronic mailbox in lieu of paper notices. Electronic notices can be routed to a single electronic mailbox, eliminating the need to route paper notices to the proper people in an organization. As with the other two options, specific information and detailed set-up and enrollment requirements are posted on the BNC web site or may be obtained by calling the toll-free help line.

EBN Compliments Case Management/Electronic Case Files System

Many of you have already read or heard about the judiciary's ongoing effort to implement a new case management/electronic filing system (CM/ECF) in the bankruptcy courts. The use of the EBN program compliments the CM/ECF effort as the bankruptcy system and courts realize the benefits of technologies that provide a seamless electronic interchange of case information. So if you haven't taken the plunge and signed up for one of the EBN electronic noticing options, there's no time like the present, and you'll never again need to worry about short notice caused by delayed paper notice delivery!


1 Use of the electronic bankruptcy noticing program results in substantial savings to the judiciary. For every notice sent electronically, the judiciary avoids having to spend approximately 27.5 cents in postage. If 10 percent of the current national volume of notices were sent electronically, the judiciary would realize a cost avoidance of approximately $2.5 million. Return to article

2 Presently the BNC contractor is examining options for providing prospective noticing partners the ability to create the required noticing agreements and related forms pre-filled with court information. Look for this capability in the coming year! Return to article

Journal Date: 
Tuesday, October 1, 2002