PracticeConsultingResponse to proposals that ‘honest’ bankrupts can go back into business after six months

Response to proposals that 'honest' bankrupts can go back into business after six months

The point of bankruptcy is to recognise the debt to creditors and make arrangements to pay them. Otherwise, the process is pointless. If bankruptcy proceedings degenerate to saying sorry, guv, and then back to business as usual, we are in danger of creating systemic bankruptcy and opening the floodgates for fraud.

What about creditors? If the bankruptcy period is reduced to six months, will income payment orders, which currently last three years, be reduced to six months?

Now, if an undischarged bankrupt receives an inheritance or windfall, the creditors benefit from this. What will happen under these new proposals? How will creditors be paid – or is that not important in this no-fault process?

The biggest cause of bankruptcy is financial mis-management. In our experience, it takes four to five months before an individual is formally declared bankrupt, allowing him ample time to deal with the situation.

To suggest that people simply wake up one morning and find themselves bankrupt is a nonsense. It makes a mockery of the debt owed to creditors, a mockery of the Courts and a mockery of financial management.

We urge Stephen Byers to think again. Instead of making a mockery of the current bankruptcy process, it would make more sense to raise the level of debt required for bankruptcy from £750 to say £3,000 and to keep the constraints in place. Otherwise, bankruptcy could become the process of choice for clued-up fraudsters.

Louise Brittain is a bankruptcy specialist at Baker Tilly

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