When I file a Pittsburgh bankruptcy in the Western District of Pennsylvania, I file it electronically, over the internet, as required by the Bankruptcy Court. This greatly simplifies the filing process, as attorneys no longer need to hand-deliver petitions and filings downtown. It creates an electronic record and history that is easy to follow and eliminates disputes as to the timing of filing. It also greatly simplifies things on the Court's end, which reduces inefficiency and costs, which in turn limits court fees.
However, electronic filing does raise a couple issues worth examining. While it is clearly preferable on the whole, certain precautions must be taken.
Clients must give me permission to file online. This is done with the "Declaration of Electronic Filing". The Declaration of Electronic Filing is a form which must be signed by both the debtor and the attorney, and it must be filed with the Court within 14 days of filing. This document is usually signed by the client at the time of filing, and forwarded immediately. If it is not filed with the Court on time, your case can be dismissed. So, it is safest and best practice to mail it out quickly.
In the Declaration of Electronic Filing, the debtor attests that all information in the filings are "true and correct." It also grants the attorney permission to file online. Finally, it declares that the Social Security number listed is true and correct. In summary, the debtor is attesting that he or she is familiar with the information being filed, and that it is honest and accurate.
The bankruptcy attorney also signs the document (also known as PAWB Local Form 1A), further attesting that the information is "complete and correct". In my office, we will review your petition closely before filing to assure we meet the requirements of the law. All the information must be correct when the "send" button is hit!
All documents, motions, orders, etc., will be filed electronically throughout the bankruptcy case. Once again, this is the only way filing is permitted. Privacy standards are followed, as personal information such as Social Security numbers must be redacted by the attorney if provided in online filings. The process has proven secure, and as long as potentially sensitive information is redacted, there should be no issues with cyber safety. Making sure the system remains secure is an important responsibility of the Court and bankruptcy attorneys.
Electronic filing reduces costs and inefficiencies, and makes the practice of bankruptcy law more simple in general. If you have any questions about the process, contact us.