In all adversarial proceedings, litigants have a duty of full disclosure and honesty with the court. Typically, where a party obtains a judgment through fraudulent conduct, the only way to overturn that judgment is through a motion to vacate pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(3).
A final judgment can also be overturned by a motion, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(d)(3), as incorporated into the Bankruptcy Rules by Rule 9024, to vacate a judgment based upon fraud on the court. Fraud on the court is generally limited to instances where “the integrity of the judicial process ha[s] been fraudulently subverted” and does not include fraudulent conduct that only affects a party to the action. Fraud on the court is typically limited to the most egregious conduct that implicates an officer of the court. Courts must further balance the policy of upholding final judgments against the possibility the judgment was obtained by perpetrating a fraud on the court. Several courts have applied a lower standard for determining whether specific fraudulent conduct rises to the level of fraud on the court.
This memorandum explores the standard necessary to establish a fraud on the court claim as well as what actions constitute fraud on the court. Part I discusses the majority standard for a fraud on the court claim. Part II discusses the minority standard for establishing fraud on the court.