Practice Tip: Service by Mail on Corporations, Partnerships and Financial Institutions
On several occasions, matters before the Court have been continued due to improper service under Rules 7004 and 9014 of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure (“FRBP”) . The majority of these service problems relate to service by mail on corporate entities and financial institutions in contested matters. To help the parties avoid these errors in future, the applicable provisions are outlined below.
FRBP 9014(b) provides that a motion in a contested matter must be served in accordance with the manner of service provided for service of a summons and complaint under FRCP 7004. See also, In re Villar, 317 B.R. 88 (9th Cir. BAP 2004). FRBP 7004 provides, in pertinent part, as follows:
Rule 7004. Process; Service of Summons, Complaint
. . .
(b) Service by first class mail.
Except as provided in subdivision (h), in addition to the methods of service authorized by Rule 4(e) -(j) F.R.Civ.P., service may be made within the United States by first class mail postage prepaid as follows:
. . .
(3) Upon a domestic or foreign corporation or upon a partnership or other unincorporated association, by mailing a copy of the summons and complaint to the attention of an officer, a managing or general agent, or to any other agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service of process and, if the agent is one authorized by statute to receive service and the statute so requires, by also mailing a copy to the defendant.
. . .
(g) Service on the debtor's attorney.
If the debtor is represented by an attorney, whenever service is made upon the debtor under this Rule, service shall also be made upon the debtor’s attorney by any means authorized under Rule 5(b) F. R. Civ. P.
(h) Service of process on an insured depository institution.
Service on an insured depository institution (as defined in section 3 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act) in a contested matter or adversary proceeding shall be made by certified mail addressed to an officer of the institution unless—
(1) the institution has appeared by its attorney, in which case the attorney shall be served by first class mail;
(2) the court orders otherwise after service upon the institution by certified mail of notice of an application to permit service on the institution by first class mail sent to an officer of the institution designated by the institution; or
(3) the institution has waived in writing its entitlement to service by certified mail by designating an officer to receive service.
Because a motion to strip lien seeks relief against a specific, identifiable party, debtor must comply with B.L.R. 9014-1(b) & (c). Debtor should take care to serve the affected lienholder in the manner required by the FRBP, and in particular FRBP 7004(b) and 7004(h) as to certain lenders.
Guidelines for Valuing and Avoiding Liens, ¶ 2.