A court can declare you bankrupt after it has been presented with a bankruptcy petition either by yourself or a creditor.
You can file your own bankruptcy petition by filling out the online form at the government insolvency website or alternatively you can obtain one by visiting your local county court. Contact your county court first to make sure they have bankruptcy jurisdiction.
When the form has been filled out, you submit it and pay your Bankruptcy fee. The total fee is £680 which you can also pay online. If you pay online, it can be paid in instalments. You can also make your fee payment at a designated bank in cash, but full fee must be paid if you do this.
After the form and payment is submitted, you must wait for the Bankruptcy ORder to be accepted or rejected. This can take up to 28 days. If the adjudicator needs to contact you for more information, they will be allowed an additional 14 days before making their decision.
You can ask for a review if your application is rejected. If it is still rejected after this, you can appeal to the court.
If the application is accepted, your Bankruptcy Order is made and your finances and assets will fall under control of the Official Receiver, who will oversee the administration of your Bankruptcy. You must co-operate fully with your Official Receiver.
Provided there are no issues, you will be discharged from your bankruptcy after 1 year.
The two solutions are both forms of Insolvency but they are also quite different. Below are their similarities and differences.
Similarities of Bankruptcy and IVAs
Differences between Bankruptcy and IVAs
Bankruptcy usually lasts for a year. If you are subject to an income payments order, you could be making payments for up to 3 years. The length of time your bankruptcy lasts largely depends on you. If you co-operate with your IP or Official Receiver you will most likely be discharged from your bankruptcy in a year, regardless of how much you owe.
Should you fail to co-operate, your bankruptcy may well last a lot longer than a year. In some cases the term can be shorter than a year, but this is rare.
Bankruptcy does have a major effect on you and your situation. When bankrupt, the official receiver or appointed trustee can decide to sell your assets to pay your creditors. There are however exceptions to what they are allowed to sell such as work equipment (tools, vehicles or anything required to work) and essential household items needed by either you or your family such as clothes, bedding, furniture and more.
An Official Receiver will look at your earnings and take into account your personal expenses and decide if it is prudent for you to pay money to your creditors. This payment can be in the form of fixed monthly payments and can last for three years.
If you object to this agreement, the official receiver has the right to get a court order to force you to make these payments for a minimum of three years. These payments can be reviewed by your request should your situation change in any way.
You will still be liable to pay any new debts you may generate after going bankrupt and any ongoing commitments and payments such as rental or other household bills.
There are two types of bankruptcy:
Before declaring yourself bankrupt, it is important make sure that you have looked into other options that may be available to you such as debt consolidation loans, IVAs, informal agreements, administration orders and other debt management plans. Often one of these solutions can prevent bankruptcy and provide the same level of financial help you require.
It is a common misconception that the bailiffs will turn up the day after declaring yourself bankrupt and seize your TV and other possessions. This is not true and bankruptcy is designed to prevent exactly that. Your non-essential assets and excess income would be used to pay your creditors. Your house is considered a non-essential asset so that would be used.
The following list outlines the main bankruptcy obligations:
Making yourself bankrupt in England if you live abroad
If you live in an EU member state, except Denmark, then you will able to declare yourself bankrupt in the country where your main interests are based. If this is the UK then you can apply for bankruptcy there in person at an English or Welsh Court. However, you can only do this within the first three years’ after you have moved abroad. When declaring yourself bankrupt you must present your petition in person or via a solicitor. Should you ask someone to act on your behalf then you will most likely need to grant them power of attorney.
It is possible that your bankruptcy may not be fully recognised in the country that you are now living in and your creditors may still be able to take action against.
Will bankruptcy affect my assets abroad?
A bankruptcy order will affect your assets abroad, but this will all depend upon where they are and if you have at some point had a business in another EU state. If you have any assets in Denmark or non EU countries then these will be part of your bankruptcy estate in the UK.
Do debts owed to foreign creditors fall into my bankruptcy?
Any creditors that you have, no matter where they are, will be able to claim in your UK bankruptcy. A foreign creditor will not be prevented from recovering debts against you in their own country.
Does a foreign bankruptcy order have any effect in England and Wales?
The effect of a foreign bankruptcy order will depend upon the country in which you are experiencing bankruptcy proceedings. If your centre of main interests is in another member of the EU, but not Denmark, then the trustee will have authority to deal with all assets within the EU. With regards to any bankruptcy restrictions, these are dependent upon foreign legislation that governs the bankruptcy.
It is worth noting that any debts that you have in the UK will remain on your credit reference file for six years after the last activity on the account. Any bankruptcy orders will also be on your file for six years or sometimes longer.
Sequestration is the Scottish legal equivalent of Bankruptcy and is a way of dealing with debts that you cannot pay. It will take on average around 2-3 months to arrange and set up. The Accountant in Bankruptcy is in charge of handling this kind of bankruptcy in Scotland.
How do sequestrations work?
Initially a petition will be given to the Court and a Trustee appointed. The Trustee may also ask for contributions to be made from your income. The petition can be made by a creditor if they are owed more than £1,500 or by Trustee if the debtor has previously failed on a Trust Deed.
If you wish to apply for Self-Sequestration then you need to owe more than £1,500 and have been served a Charge for Payment or an Earnings Arrestment. If this is not the case then you need to ask for authorization from one or all of your creditors so that you can make an application.
Pros of Sequestration
By taking out a sequestration your creditors cannot take any further action and this will remove any pressure you have been under. You will also only be requested to make one repayment with no further payments needed. It is common for you to finish the Sequestration after 3 years and by this time all your debts will be written-off.
Cons of Sequestration
When you are in a sequestration you will find that your valuable items will likely by sold and if you own your home you will may be forced to sell.
Should you work and receive a regular income then you may have to make contributions into the Sequestration. Similarly any windfalls received before you finish the sequestration will have to be paid in as well.You will also find that certain jobs are no longer available to you such as director of a limited company or an MP. You will also have to face the discomfort of your sequestration being reported in the local press. After you have been discharged from your sequestration you will have a note on your credit file for 6 years.
What other options are available?
Sequestration is often considered to be the last option so you may wish to see about Debt Management, Debt Consolidation loans, or a Protected Trust Deeds as an alternative.
It is very important that any advice you get is fully independent. Especially online, there are many websites that try to steer you in one direction or another according to how much money they make from your circumstances.
We recommend the Citizens Advice Bureau (see a list of CABs local to you). They provide free and unbiased advice on legal, financial and other problems you may have.
We also recommend The National Debt Line (0808 8084 000) between 9:00am and 9:00pm Monday to Friday and 9:30am to 1:30pm on Saturdays.
You can also use our contact form to receive more bankruptcy information. All calls are strictly confidential and you are eligible if you live in England, Scotland, or Wales.
Lastly we recommend Stepchange. You can write to them to receive free impartial advice or phone them (0800 1381 111) between 8:00am and 8:00pm Monday to Friday.