According to the proposal, among the goals of the guidelines are to ensure bankruptcy professional fees are subject to the same scrutiny and accountability that apply in non-bankruptcy engagements, and to increase disclosure and transparency in billing practices.
The proposed new guidelines feature six key changes:
- Electronic Data: Fee applications should be submitted in an open electronic data format
- Categories and Tasks: New project categories, as well as activity-based sub-categories, have been added
- Verified and Other Statements: Clients should provide verified statements in connection with a fee application to disclose, among other matters, whether the client reviewed fees and compared them to its approved budget
- Budgets and Staffing Plans: Budgets and staffing plans will be encouraged
- Additional Disclosures: The United States Trustee will seek disclosure of the lowest, highest, and average rates billed for the preceding year for estate-paid bankruptcy work and for all other work combined
- Special Fee Review Procedures: The proposed guidelines set forth models and principles for the use of independent fee examiners, fee committees, and fee committees with independent chairs
Read more about all of the objectives as well as additional details about the six key changes. You also can read the entire draft of the proposed guidelines or view the current guidelines that were established in 1996.
The USTP invites public review of and comment on these proposed guidelines by January 31, 2012. I encourage you to submit your comments by e-mail to USTP.Fee.Guidelines@usdoj.gov. All comments received will be made available for public inspection at www.justice.gov/ust.