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Bankruptcy Filings Set New Calendar Year Record in 2003

Bankruptcy filings in the federal courts broke a record during calendar year 2003, according to data released today by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Total bankruptcies filed in the 12-month period ending December 31, 2003, totaled 1,660,245, up 5.2 percent from the previous record of 1,577,651 bankruptcies filed in the 12-month period ending December 31, 2002. The calendar year total for 2003, however, did not break the historic high for a 12-month period, which was reported for the 12-month period ending September 30, 2003, at 1,661,996. The overwhelming percentage of bankruptcy filings are non-business (personal) filings, totaling 1,625,208 in calendar year 2003, up 5.6 percent from the 1,539,111 personal bankruptcies filed in calendar year 2002. The number of business filings continued to decline, totaling 35,037 in 2003, down 9.1 percent from the 38,540 business bankruptcies filed in the 12-month period ending December 31, 2002. Large public company cases filed under chapter 11 fell to 142 in 2003, down from 191 in 2002.

Substantial Caseloads Continue to Fill Courts

In fiscal year 2003, the federal courts continued to experience high, and in many cases, record caseloads, according to statistics released today by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. The number of bankruptcy cases rose 7 percent, appeals filed grew 6 percent and the number of criminal cases rose 5 percent.

Total bankruptcy filings for fiscal year 2003 reached a historic high at 1,661,996. The overall growth was due to an 8 percent rise in filings of nonbusiness petitions, which offset a 7 percent decline in business petitions. Nonbusiness petitions constituted 98 percent of filings in 2003. Increases in filings occurred under all chapters of the Bankruptcy Code except chapter 11. Chapter 7 filings, which were 71 percent of all petitions filed, rose 9 percent in 2003. The largest rise in chapter 7 filings occurred in the Northern District of Ohio, the Eastern District of Michigan and the District of Colorado. Chapter 13 filings rose 5 percent, with the largest increases occurring in the Eastern District of Michigan and the Northern District of Texas. Chapter 11 filings dropped 13 percent. The District of Maryland reported the largest increase in chapter 11 filings, from 150 in fiscal year 2002 to 441 in 2003, a 194 percent increase. Chapter 12 filings increased 117 percent, up 376 petitions, a growth that may be linked to retroactive extension of provisions for filing under this chapter.

The federal judiciary’s fiscal year is the 12-month period ending September 30. Complete statistics for fiscal year 2003, compiled in the publication Judicial Business of the U.S. Courts, can be found at www.uscourts.gov, under Library/Statistical Reports.

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