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Revised Schedule for Bankruptcy Records
A newly revised schedule for
the archiving and disposition
of bankruptcy records is
The schedule covers non-electronic
bankruptcy case files and is the end
result of a joint effort by the National
Archives and Records Administration
(NARA), the Judicial Conference
Committee on Court Administration and
Case Management, and historians, that
began in March 2009. The Conference
approved the revised schedule at its
September 2011 meeting.
Under the new schedule:
- All bankruptcy dockets and opinions
are permanent files.
- The transfer period for permanent
cases is reduced from its present
25-year retention period to 15 years
after the close of the case.
- The disposition period for temporary
cases and temporary adversary
proceedings files is reduced from the
present 20-year retention period to
15-years after the close of the case.
- Chapter 12, Family Farmer and
Fisherman cases, as well as all cases
dated 1940 or earlier, will now be
- Cases filed under the Bankruptcy Acts
of 1800, 1841, and 1867, and cases
filed under certain sub-chapters of the
Bankruptcy Acts of 1898 and 1978 will
Court officials retain the
ability to designate any case
or adversary proceeding
files as historic, based on the
court's judicial perspective.
Court officials retain the ability to
designate any case or adversary proceeding
files as historic, based on the court's
judicial perspective, and those cases will be
retained and stored. Historically designated
cases might involve a lawyer, litigant, or
witness of historical importance; an issue
of historical interest; a matter of national
interest separate from the issues in the
litigation; or have received substantial
media attention at the time.
In addition, approximately 2.5 percent
of all temporary cases retired by each
district each year, will be randomly
selected and reclassified as permanent by
NARA, preserving a sample of bankruptcy
The bankruptcy records schedule is
the latest to be revised. In spring 2011,
the Judiciary updated its records disposal
schedule for civil cases. (See "Making
Room, Saving History," The Third Branch,
May 2011.) The implementation of the
new schedules will make case files easier
for the public to identify and locate.
There are an estimated 1.1 million boxes
of bankruptcy cases stored at the Federal
Records Centers (FRC). NARA is required to
charge the Judiciary a fee for storage, and
last year storage cost the Judiciary over $6.2
million. The new records schedule will allow
the FRC to begin processing the records,
preserving and transferring permanent
cases, and disposing of temporary cases,
which will save the Judiciary a minimum of
$2 million annually.