How the Courts Deal with Bankruptcy
Although there are many courts in the UK not all of them deal with bankruptcy. Bankruptcy petitions can be presented in London, at the High Court, or in any of the county courts around the UK that deal with bankruptcy. It is, however, normal practice to present the petition to the court that is in the area where you reside, or traded in, for the last six months. The only exception to this is when you live in one county and run your business in another, and then the bankruptcy is dealt with in the county where you trade.
Where do I Hand in my Petition?If you are not sure which court you should present your petition to you can always find the contact details of your local county court in the telephone directory. They should be able to tell you which court to go to with your petition. Normal opening hours for county courts are between 10am and 4pm on weekdays and at weekends they are closed. While you are on the phone check that they have the jurisdiction to hear a bankruptcy case, if they do then you can use them to file your petition.
You can always visit the Court Service website to look for a local county court. There is a map that you can view that outlines the area each court covers. You can find them at www.courtservice.gov.uk.
What Happens Once I get to Court?Sometimes the speed of a bankruptcy hearing can be a shock. Most of the time a court will hear the bankruptcy petition immediately, if this is not possible they will make an appointment for as soon as possible. At the Bankruptcy Hearing the court has four options to choose from when considering the petition. They are:
- Delay the hearing. In other words, delay or postpone the hearing in order to make further inquiries or to request further information.
- They can dismiss the application if they feel that a different order would be more appropriate for you.
- They can grant the bankruptcy order. You will be officially bankrupt the minute the court issues the order. You will be given information as to the restrictions that you must then adhere to.
- Finally, the court can decide if an IVA would be more appropriate, if so they will appoint an insolvency practitioner to oversee the procedure. The court will only choose this option if you fulfil certain criteria i.e. if you have assets totalling more than £4000 and you owe less than £40,000 to unsecured creditors. You can object to this option, but you must inform the court of your decision regarding entering an IVA.
Warning!The court proceedings are all conducted in English. If this is not your first language and you need the help of an interpreter you will have to arrange this yourself before the hearing as the court will not provide one for you. It is your responsibility to make sure you have everything you need for the hearing, not the courts.
Attending court can be an intimidating and frightening experience, but the outcome of the hearing could mean that within one year you could be debt free and able to start again financially.