BANKRUPTCY TOURISM IS ON THE INCREASE IN THE UK. OUR RELATIVELY SOFT-TOUCH REGIME WHEREBY YOU CAN BE DISCHARGED FROM BANKRUPTCY WITHIN A YEAR IS BECOMING MORE AND MORE APPEALING TO EUROPEANS, MORE NOTABLY THOSE FROM IRELAND AND GERMANY.
These countries have much harsher bankruptcy systems than here in the UK. It can take up to 7 years in Germany and 3 years in Ireland to be discharged, compared to the one year automatic discharge granted in England and Wales – unless reason is shown to the contrary.
Under the EC Regulation on Insolvency Proceedings, a debtor can petition for bankruptcy anywhere within Europe and can select their preferred bankruptcy regime. However, in order to do this they must be able to demonstrate that their Centre of Main Interest (COMI) is within that location.
It is therefore possible for a bankruptcy petition to be challenged and possibly rejected if it is felt that false claims about the individual or company’s COMI has been made. Even where The Official Receiver is satisfied and the Order is made, the proceedings may subsequently be challenged by a creditor, by seeking annulment of the bankruptcy on the basis that the petition ought not to have been made.
The checking process has become more rigorous in recent years, this partly was due to creditors who were seeing their debtors successful wiping off commitments by gaining bankruptcy in the UK.
Bankruptcy registrars will be required to see proof of their COMI in the form of rental or mortgage statements, utility bills and evidence that the majority of the individuals concerns are within the UK.
Here at The Debt Advisor, our Insolvency Practitioner Bev Budsworth was appointed as a Trustee in relation to 2 bankruptcies where the debtors were Irish nationals. The debtors petitioned for their own bankruptcies in April 2013, and Bev was subsequently appointed as Trustee in August 2013 by the Secretary of State. Their original petitions were accompanied by sworn affidavits providing evidence of their current residential address, national insurance numbers, UK driving licences, electoral rolls, details of their children’s schools and even copies of their library cards! This was accepted by the judge and subsequently by The Official Receiver.