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Tackling your debts

I want to go bankrupt, but don’t want my address details to be made public.

Posted 07 October 2015

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If you’re at risk of violence from a former partner, find out how to go bankrupt and stay safe.

If you have got problem debt and are considering bankruptcy, but don’t want someone – your ex-partner, a family member, an old ‘friend’ – to know where you live or work, because you fear you may be subjected to abuse or violence, don’t worry! There’s a way you can apply for bankruptcy, and ask for your details to be kept out of all the documents relating to it, at the same time, it’s called an order to withhold current address from bankruptcy description, advertisements and registers.  

Before we move on to how to make the application, first we need to point out that this advice only applies to people living in England and Wales. Scotland has slightly different rules, so we’ll need to cover those another time. But, for now, you can read more about the Scottish bankruptcy solutions – sequestration and MAPS and Trust Deeds.

Right, now that’s out of the way, we’ll look at what information appears in the register and what it’s used for.

What information is in the register and what is it used for?

The Individual Insolvency Register is a government register that allows others to search for all those in England and Wales who have been made bankrupt.  So, in ordinary circumstances – when you’re not in danger of being physically threatened by an ex-partner – your details will always appear in the register. And, they’ll remain on the register until three months after your insolvency has ended.

Scotland has a slightly different process, but has its own Register of Insolvencies (ROI), which is also searchable and contains the same details as the version used in England and Wales. 

What details are contained in the register?

The register contains a lot of detail. An example entry looks like this:

Report Requested For : SARAH SMITH

Report for Bankruptcy Case

Individual Details

Surname: SMITH

Forename(s): SARAH

Title: Ms

Gender: Female

Occupation: Employed

Date of Birth: 26 May 1965

Last Known Address: 1 Any Street

MANCHESTER

United Kingdom

M12 3BU

Insolvency Case Details

Case Name: SARAH SMITH

Court: County Court at Manchester  

Type: Bankruptcy

Number: 0000244

Case Year: 2014

Order Date: 22 October 2015

Status  Currently Bankrupt : Automatic Discharge will be 22 October 2016

Case Description :  SARAH SMITH, a retail assistant of 1 Any Street, Manchester, M12 3BU

           

Insolvency Service Contact Details

Insolvency Service Office: Manchester A

Contact: Enquiry Desk

Address: 2nd Floor

3 Piccadilly Place

MANCHESTER

United Kingdom

Post Code: M1 3BN

(The Insolvency Service is not responsible for the content of external sites.)

Telephone: 0161 234 8500

 

As you can see, many of your personal details will appear here, including your full name and address and your date of birth too. So, if you were in danger of violence or abuse, it would not be hard for somebody to find you. 

Now, no court would want to put you and your family in danger of physical violence. So, on 6th April 2010, the rules for bankruptcy changed and now people, and close family members, who are at risk of violence, can request that address details are left out of the official court and insolvency register documents. This is called having information ‘withheld’.   

How can I keep my address out of the ROI?

If you’re applying for bankruptcy yourself, you need to make the application to have your details withheld from the register at the same time. As well as requesting that your details are withheld from the ROI, you can also ask the court to remove your address details from any court documents too, as these are also open for public inspection. If the court agrees, they can order that:

• details of the client’s address are removed from any court file

• the details entered into register do not show your address

• the current address details of the client that have been given to the Land Registry be removed

• any other notices created also omit address details and most importantly,

• the current address details of the client be kept out of the Individual Insolvency Register

An application to have details withheld can also come from the Official Receiver or the trustee in bankruptcy or Secretary of State. 

If I can’t have my address withheld, I don’t want to go bankrupt, what can I do?

If the threat to your safety is so high that you feel you can’t allow the possibility of your details becoming public, even if it means not becoming bankrupt, you tell the court. You should make it clear that the application for bankruptcy should only be awarded if the court also agrees to your address being withheld.

How do I apply for my details to be withheld?

You make the application at the same time as you request to be made bankrupt. When you apply for your details to be withheld, you will have to give your reasons for asking. You cannot make a request for your details to be withheld, unless you, or your family, are in danger of being physically harmed. So, you will have to provide some proof of that. The proof must be a witness statement that contains a reference to insolvency rule 5A.18. The statement must also provide proof of what’s being said, so if you’ve suffered violence from a partner in the past, you must detail this as your reason for wanting your details withheld.     

As well as your own evidence, you should also try to provide some third party evidence too. This is a statement from someone else who can verify what you’re saying. This can be:

• your doctor

• the police

• a solicitor

• your counsellor

• your psychiatrist

• a friend 

• a relative

How much does it cost?

There is a cost attached to doing the application – it’s £155. However, as with all court fees, you may, if you meet certain criteria, be eligible for remission of the fees. This means you’d only have to pay part of the fee, or nothing at all. You can find out more about the criteria for remission of fees here.  

So, if you need to go bankrupt, but want to stay safe, we hope this has helped you understand your options better. If you want more information, or you’d just like to know more about the options available to you, please speak to someone. 

by Shelley Bowers

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