Electronic bankruptcy noticing.
The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts established the BNC to assist in preparation and service of routine bankruptcy notices. The BNC now offers interested parties usually creditors and attorneys three options for receiving bankruptcy notices electronically.
* Internet e-mail
* Facsimile, or
* Electronic Data Interchange ("EDI") (designed for high volume recipients of 200 or more notices per week)
Anyone who has the required technology may participate in EBN. Not only can EBN help recipients eliminate numerous pieces of paper, but also electronic notices are delivered days faster titan the U.S. Mail and to the address or attention of the individual you choose.
Which Bankruptcy Notices Are Included in EBN?
EBN applies in all chapters only to those notices processed through the BNC, such as Notice of the First Meeting of Creditors (a/k/a the Section 341 Meeting) and Notice of Discharge. Therefore, notices generated by trustees, attorneys, debtors and some court-generated notices or orders will continue to be sent via U.S. Mail to your address of record at the court.
Signing Up for EBN
This article summarizes your EBN options. To obtain additional information, updated details regarding technical requirements, and to download forms, you should visit the BNC's EBN web site at www.ebnuscourts.com. In addition, the BNC provides toll free help desk support for all aspects of EBN at 877.837.3424.
Regardless of the method of electronic notice you choose, creditors wishing to participate in EBN must sign a Noticing Agreement with the court to ensure understanding of the EBN process and roles of the parties. Some courts have delegated the sign-up process for implementing EBN Noticing Agreements to the BNC, while others have not. To view a list of participating bankruptcy courts, names and phone numbers of individuals who serve as EBN contacts in each district, and to obtain the appropriate Noticing Agreement and instructions on where to send it, visit the following Internet address: http://bnc2-reston.noticingcenter. com/cgi-bin/CourtServ.cgi.
Participation in EBN is managed on a district-by-district basis. If you wish to participate in EBN in Delaware or in the Eastern, Middle and Western Divisions of the United States Bankruptcy Courts in North Carolina, for example, you would need to execute a separate Noticing Agreement with each court. You may become an E-mail Noticing Partner, a Fax Noticing Partner or an EDI Partner with each court. Selecting more than one method of notice with each court is not an option.
During the first thirty days of your EBN service, the BNC will send notices in your chosen electronic format as well as by U.S. Mail so that both sides may confirm the process is working properly.
Being an EBN Partner for Internet E-mail
In order to participate through e-mail, your system must be able to provide a confirmation that the notices were successfully delivered to your mailbox. This confirmation can be provided through delivery status notification ("DSN") or automatic mail response. Details regarding this requirement can be obtained at www.ebnuscourts.com/phase2/Phase2_e mailpage.htm. The web site provides a list of tested e-mail providers that are DSN compliant, as well as a test to see if your e-mail address is compliant.
Installation of Adobe Acrobat PDF reader software Version 4.0 or higher also is required. View the above-noted web site for a link to download this software free of charge.
When you fill in the Noticing Agreement, you must identify the name(s) and address(s) and name synonyms (spelling variations of your name) to which electronic notices are to be sent. The BNC determines that a notice should be sent electronically by comparing the name synonyms and addresses listed on your Noticing Agreement with the names and addresses that the debtor lists on his petition. The BNC software will attempt to match the name (without punctuation) and address and send the notice electronically.
Understanding the matching process and providing numerous name variations and related names is critical for those who wish to maximize the benefits of EBN. For details and examples of the process visit www.ebnuscourts.com/phase2/Phase2_n &amatch.htm. If the recipient name and address in the court's notice instructions do not match the name(s) and address(s) on the Noticing Agreement, the BNC will mail the notice via the U.S. postal service.
Being an EBN Partner for Fax
Fax participants must have an open fax line and working machine in place for notice transmittals in the evening hours. The BNC will make three attempts to deliver the notice by fax. If no confirmation of receipt is received within three attempts, the BNC win mail the document the following day. Should electronic noticing delivery to you be unsuccessful three consecutive times, the service will be terminated without further notice and only mailed copies will be sent. The BNC will include one fax cover sheet for all notices from the same district, showing the name mad address of the recipient, case number, court form code, originating court, date and total number of pages. If a single notice exceeds 30 pages, it will be mailed instead. A notice or combined tax will not exceed 30 pages because the BNC will break the transmission into segments containing no more than 30 pages each.
Additional details regarding noticing by fax may be obtained at www.ebn courts.com/phase2/Phase2_faxpage.htm. As with e-mail noticing, it is critical for participants to provide numerous name variations and related names in the Noticing Agreement in order to maximize the matching process and benefits of EBN.
Being an EBN Partner for EDI
For high volume creditors, the BNC will use the EDI system to transmit only the variable information in certain bankruptcy notices, e.g., debtor name and 341 meeting locations, rather than the entire notice text. EDI software companies support the instructions contained in the transmission to "map" the variable notice information to electronic data fields so that the recipient can view the entire notice.
Entities not already using EDI for other applications, such as invoicing, must purchase and install EDI software and obtain an electronic mailbox account for EDI notice transmissions. According to the BNC, the benefit of EDI to creditors who receive thousands of bankruptcy notices is expected to be substantially greater than the costs to switch to EDI processing. Lower volume creditors are more likely to benefit from e-mail or fax noticing.
EBN has limitations, but if you are confronted with numerous bankruptcy notices or if you need to know quickly when a bankruptcy is flied, it may be the answer to helping you efficiently manage this unwelcome form of mail!
Lisa Sumner is an Associate working with the Bankruptcy and Creditors' Rights practice group of Poyner & Spruill LLP in Raleigh, NC. Lisa may be reached at 919.783.2869 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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