Rule 9011(b) of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, the bankruptcy counterpart to Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“Rule 11”), provides, that in presenting a pleading to the court, an attorney or unrepresented party is certifying that to the best of the person’s knowledge, information, and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances, that: (1) it is not being presented for any improper purpose, such as to harass or to cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the cost of litigation; (2) the claims, defenses, and other legal contentions therein are warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law or the establishment of new law; (3) the allegations and other factual contentions have evidentiary support or, if specifically so identified, are likely to have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery; and (4) the denials of factual contentions are warranted on the evidence or, if specifically so identified, are reasonably based on a lack of information or belief. Rule 9011(c) further provides that, if after notice and a reasonable opportunity to respond, the court determines that Rule 9011(b) has been violated, the court may, subject to certain stated conditions, impose an appropriate sanction upon the attorney, law firm, or party that has violated Rule 9011(b) or is responsible for the violation.
This Article discusses the requirements of Rule 9011 and the sanctions that may be imposed against a party that fails to satisfy those requirements. Section I of this Article discusses the first prong of Rule 9011, which prohibits the filing of a bankruptcy documents for an improper purpose. Section II discusses the second prong of Rule 9011, which forbids the filing of a bankruptcy petition that is not warranted in law. Section III explains the third prong of Rule 9011, which requires an attorney to conduct a reasonable inquiry before submitting a bankruptcy petition. Section IV explains the fourth prong, which requires an attorney to conduct a reasonable inquiry before submitting his defenses and denials. Section V discusses the sanctions a court may impose if an attorney fails to comply with Rule 9011. Section VI illustrates the procedural requirements of Rule 9011, particularly, the safe harbor provision. Lastly, Section VII considers the implications of Rule 9011.