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Whether the Attorney is a Debt Relief Agency?

by Expert Lilliana | 10 May 2017

Pursuant to the implementation of δδ526-528 in 2005 lawyers providing bankruptcy assistance to a consumer debtors can now be referred to as “debt relief agencies”(Vergos, 2009). “Bankruptcy assistance as defined includes providing information, advice, counsel, document preparation, or filing, or attendance at a creditors meeting or appearing in a case or proceeding on behalf of anothers or providing legal representation with respect to a case or proceeding under the Code” (Vergos, 2009). The lawyer might a debt relief agency even if the lawyer does not practice bankruptcy law; the debt relief agency can broadly encompass areas such as the following:

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  • “The attorney for a divorce client who wants to know how the bankruptcy of a spouse might affect him/her;
  • The divorce lawyer providing advice about the bankruptcy effect of certain provisions pertaining to a divorce settlement;
  • Representation of an individual in a preference case;
  • Attendance of the δ341 meeting of creditors in the bankruptcy of the client’s ex-spouse;
  • Representation by a lawyer of a class of consumers against a large company who files a chapter 11;
  • Lawyers who fill out a proof of claim on behalf of a consumer debtor.” (Vergos, 2009)

Other Information:

“The designation as “debt relief agency” subjects one to professional responsibilities, required disclosures, and communications; as well as advertising restrictions mandated in §§526, 527 and 528 of the 2005 act”(Vergos,2009)
“A debt relief agency shall not advise an assisted person or prospective assisted person to pay an attorney fee”(Vergos ,2009).
“A debt relief agency shall not charge for services performed as part of preparing for or representing a debtor in a case under this title” (Vergos, 2009)
“Possible sanctions include liability to the client for fees and charges received, actual damages, reasonable attorney’s fees and costs for the intentional or negligent failure to comply with §§526-528; for failure to file any required documents in a case that is dismissed or converted to another chapter; or for disregarding the material requirements of the 2005 act or of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure” (Vergos, 2009). “Other sanctions include state law remedies, actions by the state attorney general, the U.S. Trustee or by the bankruptcy court on its own motion” (Vergos, 2009)

Reference:

  • Vergos, E. (2008). Bankruptcy Blues.
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