Bankruptcy gives debtors the chance to wipe the slate clean and make a fresh start – but such opportunities are only open to those who cooperate with creditors: the law is tireless in its pursuit of those who do not. That point was made by one High Court case involving a debtor who was threatened with imprisonment for repeatedly failing to disclose details of his finances.

Sixteen years after he had been made bankrupt, the man remained undischarged due to his failure to give appropriate assistance to his trustee in bankruptcy, whose task it was to protect his creditors’ interests. The trustee presented evidence that the bankrupt man had continued to enjoy an affluent lifestyle, including having foreign holidays, golf trips and restaurant meals, whilst his creditors remained unpaid.

He had a long history of failing to comply in full with a number of court orders that had required him to disclose details of his assets, income and outgoings to the trustee. In the circumstances, the Court found him in contempt and warned him of penal consequences if his disobedience continued. Sentencing was adjourned but the Court advised him in no uncertain terms that he could not expect mercy if he failed to use the interim period to regularise his position.


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