Giving Tuesday and Beyond

Posted by NCBRC - November 29, 2016



This year, the National Consumer Bankruptcy Rights Center, is participating in #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving. Last year, more than 45,000 organizations in 71 countries came together to celebrate #GivingTuesday. We invite you to join the movement by supporting the work NCBRC does on behalf of consumer bankruptcy debtors.



Each year millions of individuals and families across the country struggle to pay their bills. Often financial distress follows on the heels of other unanticipated events such as job loss, divorce, substantial out-of-pocket medical expenses and natural disasters. Sometimes filing for bankruptcy is the best alternative for relieving the pressure of extreme financial distress. Bankruptcy can provide debtors with a fresh start–a new opportunity in life and a clear field for future effort. The Bankruptcy Code grants financially distressed debtors certain rights that are critical to the proper functioning of the bankruptcy system as a whole. However, bankruptcy debtors, with their limited financial resources and limited exposure to the bankruptcy system, often do not have the ability to protect the integrity of the bankruptcy system and preserve the bankruptcy rights of consumer debtors more generally.  The National Consumer Bankruptcy Rights Center (NCBRC) is meant to fill that vacuum by filing briefs or providing assistance to consumer debtors’ or their attorneys, especially at the appellate level where a favorable decision will often help thousands of consumer bankruptcy debtors.

Amicus Briefs 

NCBRC files amicus briefs in courts throughout the country. An amicus curiae is an entity or person, not party to a case, who volunteers information to assist courts in deciding matter before it. Appellate cases are normally limited to the factual record and arguments from the lower court case under appeal and the attorneys for parties focus on the facts and arguments most favorable to their clients. Where a case may have broader implications, amicus curiae briefs are a way to introduce those concerns, so that the possibly broad legal effects of courts’ decisions will not depend solely on the parties directly involved in the case.
In the last two years, NCBRC has filed amicus briefs in five Supreme Court cases and twenty-two courts of appeals cases.  Issues range from the applicability of arbitration provision in consumer bankruptcy cases (Moses) and the test for undue hardship under section 523(a)(8) (Murphy and Conniff) to the application of collateral estoppel to unlisted claims (Jones, Padula, Ingram, Slater) and attorneys fees for prosecuting automatic stay violations (Schwartz-Tallard).

In some cases, consumer bankruptcy rights may be advanced better through impact litigation, which involves more direct assistance to debtors or their counsel than amicus curiae briefs. The term impact litigation describes a strategy of selecting and pursuing legal arguments as a tool to achieve broad and lasting effects, beyond the particular case involved. At the same time impact litigation supports the rule of law, provides a foundation for future litigation, serves as a means for protecting and preserving the rights of consumer bankruptcy debtors, and fosters public awareness and education by attracting media attention to the important issues involved.
NCBRC has been deeply involved in several impact litigation issues including the FDCPA/stale proof of claim issues, the chapter 7 lien stripping, and fighting the McCoy rule, which relates to the dischargeability of tax obligations arising from late-filed returns.

NCBRC engages in numerous education activities such as presenting at various CLE programs around the country and the annual NACBA convention.  NCBRC’s website provides updates on bankruptcy case that have broad impact on consumer bankruptcy rights and offers numerous resources including an easily searchable brief bank.

NCBRC is a 501(c)(3) organization (EIN: 27-3191132).  Contributions to NCBRC are tax deductible as charitable donations for federal income tax purposes.

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