When a debtor commences a commercial bankruptcy proceeding, trade creditors, contract counterparties, and other parties with claims or potential claims against the debtor—liquidated or unliquidated—are generally aware of the requirement to file a “proof of claim” by the “bar date” deadline (“Bar Date”) established by an order of the bankruptcy court or, in some jurisdictions, local court rules. The Bar Date is usually set early on in Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases, with broad notice provided to creditors of the deadline to file claims for amounts owed as of the bankruptcy petition date. In many cases, a debtor may also seek approval to publish notice of the Bar Date in order to bind unknown creditors that cannot be readily identified in its books and records. This deadline is strictly enforced. Absent extenuating circumstances, creditors cannot pursue any recovery if they miss the Bar Date.
In addition to the Bar Date, creditors, creditors’ committees (which trade creditors often serve on in commercial Chapter 11 cases), and others face numerous other, less-well-known – but equally critical – dates and deadlines throughout the life cycle of a bankruptcy proceeding, such as:
- the deadline to object to “first day” and “second day” relief sought by the debtor at the outset of a Chapter 11 case, including interim and final deadlines to object to debtor-in-possession financing and use of cash collateral (assets of the debtor that are subject to its secured lenders’ liens);
- the challenge deadline for creditors, creditors’ committees, or other parties to bring a lien challenge and assert any other claims against the debtor’s secured lenders;
- the response deadline to a debtor’s or trustee’s objection to a creditor’s claim;
- the deadline for creditors and parties in interest to object to a Chapter 11 plan (including any non-consensual third-party release provisions);
- where a Chapter 11 plan contains “consensual” third-party releases, the deadline to opt into or out of the release, as applicable, which often coincides with the plan voting deadline;1
- the answer deadline in preference adversary proceedings which, if missed, could lead to entry of a default judgment against the creditor; and
- the administrative claim filing deadline established and set in some bankruptcy cases through a Chapter 11 plan, a stand-alone court order, or both (in cases with multiple deadlines) for creditors to seek payment for goods or services provided to the debtor, or other claims arising, during the course of the bankruptcy case.