Suspending a bankrupt's discharge from bankruptcy—Wilson v Williams

Suspending a bankrupt's discharge from bankruptcy—Wilson v Williams

When will a bankrupt’s discharge from bankruptcy be suspended? In Wilson v Williams, theChancery Division heard a bankrupt’s appeal in respect of an order suspending his discharge from bankruptcy where thebankrupt argued that theterms of that order were too wide and were disproportionately severe.

Original news

Wilson v Williams (Trustee in Bankruptcy for John Wilson) [2015] EWHC 1841 (Ch), [2015] All ER (D) 275 (Jun)

The appellant bankrupt challenged an order made suspending his discharge from bankruptcy, which had been made as thedistrict judge was satisfied that thebankrupt had not co-operated with his trustee in bankruptcy.

The terms of thesuspension order were not uncommon—the bankrupt would remain undischarged until such time as thetrustee confirmed to thecourt by filing a report that thebankrupt had complied with his duties and obligations, or thecourt ordered otherwise. The suspension was not linked to compliance by thebankrupt of theconditions also set out in theorder (eg to provide information in relation to his pension).

The appeal was dismissed. The bankrupt’s failures were both serious and significant, and thedistrict judge had not exercised his discretion improperly. The bankrupt was afforded sufficient protection by being able to apply to thecourt to have thesuspension order discharged if thetrustee failed to file a report and thebankrupt considered that he had fully complied with his duties and obligations to his trustee.

What were thefacts of thecase?

Mr Wilson was adjudged bankrupt on this own petition on 19 March 2015, disclosing liabilities of at least £1m, and that he had contributed £1m to his pension since 1988. Mr Williams was appointed as Mr Wilson’s trustee in bankruptcy on 9 April 2014.

Mr Williams wrote to Mr Wilson requesting information, including details of his pension. Despite being chased, it was not until after Mr Williams issued an application

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About the author:

Stephen qualified as a solicitor in 2005 and joined the Restructuring and Insolvency team at Lexis®PSL in September 2014 from Shoosmiths LLP, where he was a senior associate in the restructuring and insolvency team.

Primarily focused on contentious and advisory corporate and personal insolvency work, Stephen’s experience includes acting for office-holders on a wide range of issues, including appointments, investigations and the recovery and realisation of assets (including antecedent transaction claims), and for creditors in respect of the impact on them of the insolvency of debtors and counterparties.