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How to go bankrupt

Bankruptcy court hearing. What to expect

If you’re thinking about applying for bankruptcy you might be wondering what happens.

This information applies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In Scotland, the process is different.

To apply for bankruptcy you must complete the relevant bankruptcy forms and submit them online. You’ll also need to make sure you’re able to pay the bankruptcy fees.

If you live in Northern Ireland you’ll need to apply for bankruptcy by submitting forms to the court and attending a court hearing. This process will change in November 2016, when you’ll be able to apply online.

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Will I need to attend a bankruptcy court hearing?

In the past, if you declared bankruptcy, you’d usually attend a court hearing. This is no longer the case and you won’t have to attend a court.

Instead, you submit an online application and an adjudicator will assess it. You’ll be notified of the decision made by the adjudicator.

Who decides if a bankruptcy can go ahead?

The adjudicator will decide if your bankruptcy can go ahead. Their decision will be based on whether you’re insolvent – this means you have no way to pay your debts at the correct amount.

The adjudicator could refuse your bankruptcy if you’re able to pay your debts as normal, if there’s a more appropriate solution for you such as a debt relief order (DRO), or if it’s clear you don’t understand what bankruptcy involves. If you’ve had help from a free advice agency like us, it’s very unlikely your bankruptcy would be refused.

If your bankruptcy goes ahead, you’ll be made bankrupt on the same day. This means the debts included in your bankruptcy will be formally written off or ‘discharged’ after 12 months. You’ll be assigned a trustee such as an official receiver or insolvency practitioner to deal with your case and they’ll take control of your assets on the day of your bankruptcy.

What happens in an interview with the official receiver?

The official receiver (OR) will deal with things such as your assets and they’ll inform your creditors of your bankruptcy. A case examiner working for the official receiver will usually get in touch with you on the day of the bankruptcy hearing or within two days after it. In some cases, if your forms are completed thoroughly and your case is straightforward, an interview may not be needed.

If you were made bankrupt by one of your creditors, you’ll be sent a questionnaire to fill out beforehand. It’s important to work with the case examiner and make sure you complete any paperwork requested in the timeframes they give you.

The interview will usually take place over the phone unless your case is more complicated.

During your interview with the case examiner they might ask about your reason for going bankrupt and what led you to be in that situation. They may request additional information about your property and debts and they’ll be able to deal with any queries you have about the bankruptcy. It’s a good idea to keep a copy of your statement of affairs, as they could go through this with you too.

It’s always best to be completely honest with the case examiner about your situation.

If during the bankruptcy your circumstances change, it’s important to let them know.