A weekly news service that publishes case summaries of the most recent important bankruptcy-law decisions, tracks major commercial bankruptcies, and reports on developments in bankruptcy reform in...
By Daniel Gill
July 18 — A bankruptcy attorney was ordered to complete the local online e-filing training course because he failed to keep original signature pages, instead relying on the electronic service DocuSign for his client's signatures on bankruptcy filing documents ( In re Mayfield, 2016 BL 228384, Bankr. E.D. Cal., No. UST-1, 7/15/16 ).
Judge Robert S. Bardwil of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of California ordered attorney Pauldeep Bains to attend the training course in response to a motion brought by the Office of the United States Trustee. The OUST is a component of the Department of Justice charged with overseeing the administration of bankruptcy cases and private bankruptcy trustees.
Most, if not all, bankruptcy courts in the U.S. require parties to file court documents electronically. When Bains filed a bankruptcy case for a client, he used the popular electronic signing service DocuSign, a company based in San Francisco and Seattle. According to the company's website, DocuSign has more than 85 million users in 188 countries.
However, most, if not all, bankruptcy courts have local rules governing the practice of filing documents. In the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of California, Local Bankruptcy Rule 9004–1 controls. That section provides that electronically filed documents may reflect being signed by the use of “/s/” followed by the signatory's name.
LBR 9004-1(D) requires that the filing party — here, the attorney — retain copies of the original actual signed document for at least three years from the close of the case. Bains did not have any such original, “wet” signatures in his possession.
Even though the local rule contemplates “software-generated signatures,” it also provides that counsel must maintain on file a copy of actual, handwritten signatures. This requirement “helps ensure the authenticity of documents filed with the Court,” the court said. The court rejected the attorney's argument that the DocuSigned documents were “originally signed,” and concluded that they were indeed software-generated signatures, requiring a corresponding handwritten signature to be held by counsel.
“Although DocuSign affixations and other software-generated electronic signatures may have a place in certain commercial and other transactions, they do not have a place as substitutes for wet signatures on a bankruptcy petition, schedules, statements, and other documents filed with the court, and they do not comply with this court's local rule,” the court said.
Pauldeep Bains, Sacramento, Calif. appeared for the debtor and on his own behalf. The US Trustee appeared by Jason M Blumberg, Sacramento, Calif.
To contact the reporter on this story: Daniel Gill in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jay Horowitz at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2016 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)