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Do You Need to Appeal a Bankruptcy Court Decision?

Oct. 18, 2022

If you answered yes, contact our office immediately. The timeframe to appeal a bankruptcy decision is only 14 days, and if you miss the deadline to appeal, you may lose your opportunity to appeal forever.

Although appeals in bankruptcy can be difficult, they may be necessary to protect your rights. At BransonLaw, we have experience in bankruptcy and bankruptcy appeals. In 2020, attorney Jacob Flentke successfully represented the appellant in Tufts v. Hay, where the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled, “We are persuaded by the view advocated by Tufts counsel . . . .”  Tufts v. Hay, 977 F.3d 1204, 1209 (11th Cir. 2020). 

Bankruptcy appeals often involve procedural rules that are specific to bankruptcy. The courts, timing, and procedural rules for filing a bankruptcy appeal can all differ from typical appeals. Here are a few of those differences:

Structure Of The Bankruptcy Appeal Process 

In the Eleventh Circuit, Bankruptcy Court decisions are appealed to the District Court and are decided in the first instance by a United States District Judge. In some other circuits, Bankruptcy Court decisions are appealed to a Bankruptcy Appellate Panel (“BAP”) of three (3) bankruptcy judges. A party that is unhappy with the appellate decision of the District Judge (or BAP) can then appeal that decision to a three-judge panel of the Circuit Court of Appeals. A party unhappy with the three-judge panel decision can then request that the case be heard by the entire Circuit Court of Appeals, with all of the Circuit Judges sitting en banc. Finally, if a party is still unhappy, they can petition for a writ of certiorari for the case to be heard by the United States Supreme Court. 

Basis For an Appeal 

Although you may be unhappy with a Bankruptcy Court decision, you must identify and convincingly argue a specific legal error that was made by the Bankruptcy Court in order to win an appeal. Winning an appeal requires presenting a compelling argument to the appellate court to explain how, specifically, the Bankruptcy Court erred, and why the Bankruptcy Court should be reversed. On the other hand, if you prevailed in the Bankruptcy Court, it is important to defend the Bankruptcy Court’s decision on appeal and argue why the Bankruptcy Court should be affirmed. Different types of decisions by the Bankruptcy Court receive different standards of review on appeal. For example, factual findings will only be reversed on appeal if they are clearly erroneous, while issues of law are reviewed anew under the de novo standard that is more favorable to appellants. At BransonLaw, we can analyze your case and help identify appealable issues, the standard of review that will govern those issues, and the estimated likelihood of prevailing on appeal. 

Timing Is Everything 

Once the Bankruptcy Court issues a “final” order, you only have 14 days to file a notice of appeal (which is much shorter than the typical 30-day deadline to appeal in most other civil litigation). The 14-day deadline to appeal is jurisdictional, so if you miss the deadline, you may lose the right to appeal forever. Several Supreme Court decisions in the past few years have added another layer of complexity to determining whether an order is “final” and appealable. Given the stakes, determining finality is critically important, and it can be tricky, which makes having an attorney to analyze these issues invaluable. An attorney can also explore other procedural alternatives, such as pursuing an interlocutory appeal of a nonfinal order in appropriate circumstances or requesting to appeal directly to the Circuit Court. 

Most Bankruptcy Appeals Are Decided “On The Papers” 

In bankruptcy appeals (like other types of appeals), the appellate court may rule based solely on the written legal briefs, without oral argument. As such, your written brief may be your one and only opportunity to make your argument to the appellate court. Not only must the legal argument be strong, but the brief also must comply with the detailed rules that govern the content, length, and form of briefs and other legal filings related to a bankruptcy appeal. In addition, in the bankruptcy context, there are procedural rules unique to bankruptcy appeals that further complicate the appeal process. Navigating this procedural terrain can be difficult, and having an attorney with experience on these issues can make all the difference.

BransonLaw Can Help 

At BransonLaw, we bring years of bankruptcy, litigation, and appellate experience to every client we serve. We will be a strong advocate for you throughout your bankruptcy appeal. We can review your case, analyze whether you have a legal basis for an appeal, prepare strategies for your appeal, and focus on achieving the best outcome for you and for your business. Don’t delay. Contact our team today!