Making yourself bankrupt

Information about petitioning for your own bankruptcy including advice on whether it is the right option, how to do it, what the cost is, what will happen at court and the consequences.

The bankruptcy option

When trying to decide if bankruptcy is the best option for you, you may wish to make use of our guide: 

Petition for your bankruptcy

If you decide that bankruptcy is the best option available to you there are a number of forms that you need to complete:

The petition (Insolvency Rules (NI) 1991 form 6.30)

This form is your request to the Court for you to be made bankrupt and includes the reasons for your request

The statement of affairs (Insolvency Rules (NI) 1991 form 6.31) 

This form asks you to list all your assets (anything that belongs to you that may be used to pay your debts) and all your debts, including the names and addresses of the creditors and the amount you owe each one. When you have completed this form you will be asked to make a sworn statement as to its accuracy and completeness before an officer of the court or a solicitor. It is therefore vital that you make a full disclosure of your assets and debts. You can get these forms, free of charge, from the Bankruptcy and Chancery Division of the High Court in Belfast.

You can now complete the statement of affairs (form 6.31) online

You should complete the petition and statement of affairs forms in capital letters using black ink. While Court Officials can advise you on procedures, give you the forms you need and help you fill them in, they cannot give you legal advice.

Partnerships

If you are, or were, running a business in partnership (even if there is no formal partnership agreement) and all the partners want to be made bankrupt, you will need different petition and statement of affairs forms. These are available from the High Court.

If you were in business as a partnership, each partner will have to pay separate fees, unless all the partners apply for a joint bankruptcy petition under the Insolvent Partnerships Order (Northern Ireland) 1995 (Form 16). Form 16 is available from the court. You may find it useful to access our guidance leaflet: 

Cost

There are three fees that you will have to pay when you take your petition and statement of affairs to the Court:

The deposit

The deposit of £525 towards the costs of administering your bankruptcy and is paid to the Department for the Economy. The deposit is payable in all cases and payment may be made in cash or postal orders, or by a cheque from a building society, bank or solicitor. Cheques should be made payable to the "Official Receiver". Personal cheques will not be accepted.

The court fee

The court fee of £137. This fee may be paid in cash or by cheque or postal order made payable to "Supreme Court Fees Account" In some circumstances the court may waive this fee; for example, if you are on Income Support. If you are not sure whether you qualify for a reduction in the fee or whether you are exempt from paying the fee, court staff will be able to advise you.

The solicitor's fee

The fee payable to a solicitor before whom you swear the contents of your statement of affairs: you should expect to pay around £7 for this service

If you are a married couple and you are both applying for bankruptcy, you will each have to pay separate fees. 

Court proceedings

The High Court will either hear your petition straight away or arrange a time for the court to consider it.

At the hearing the Court can do one of four things:

  • stay (delay) the proceedings - often because the court needs further information before it can decide whether to make a bankruptcy order
  • dismiss the petition - perhaps because an administration order would be more appropriate
  • appoint an insolvency practitioner - if the Court thinks an individual voluntary arrangement would be appropriate 
  • make a bankruptcy order

Administering your bankruptcy

The Official Receiver, who is a civil servant in The Insolvency Service and an officer of the Court, will be responsible for administering your bankruptcy and protecting your assets from the date of the bankruptcy order.

He will act as your trustee in bankruptcy unless the Court appoints an insolvency practitioner to take this role. The trustee in bankruptcy is responsible for dealing with your debts incurred before the date of your bankruptcy. The Official Receiver must also report to the Court any matters which indicate that you may have committed criminal offences in connection with your bankruptcy.

Further information is available in the Insolvency Service guidance leaflet: 

Duties as a bankrupt

When a bankruptcy order has been made against you, you must do all the following things:

  • provide information about your financial affairs to the Official Receiver. This will usually be done by telephone or at an interview at the Official Receiver's Office - do not wait for the Official Receiver to contact you - you should contact him as soon as possible once the bankruptcy order has been made
  • collect and hand over your assets to the Official Receiver, with all your account books, records, bank statements, insurance policies and other papers relating to your assets and debts
  • notify your trustee or the Official Receiver about any assets and increases in income you receive during your bankruptcy
  • stop using your bank and building society accounts, credit cards and similar accounts straight away
  • not get credit of £500 or more from any person without first telling them that you are a bankrupt
  • not make payments direct to your creditors for money that you owed before the bankruptcy order was made (you should however continue to pay such things as rent or mortgage on your home or for current supplies of electricity or gas)
  • if you do not co-operate with your trustee in bankruptcy, you could be arrested

More information

For more information, read: 

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