What assets vest in the trustee in bankruptcy and what steps does the official receiver or trustee in bankruptcy need to take?
What assets vest in the trustee in bankruptcy and what steps does the official receiver or trustee in bankruptcy need to take?

The following Restructuring & Insolvency practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • What assets vest in the trustee in bankruptcy and what steps does the official receiver or trustee in bankruptcy need to take?
  • Definition of property and some general principles
  • Exceptions to the general rule
  • Specific examples of assets which vest
  • Protection of the estate—antecedent transactions
  • Further adjustments for the benefit of the bankruptcy estate
  • Pensions
  • Protection of the estate—securing assets
  • Protection of the estate—stay on proceedings

Definition of property and some general principles

Property is defined very widely in section 436 of the Insolvency Act 1986 (IA 1986), and includes 'money, goods, things in action, land and every description of property wherever situated and also obligations and every description of interest, whether present or future or vested or contingent, arising out of, or incidental to, property'. This statutory definition is broad enough to include property, both tangible and intangible and wherever situated (on foreign property see Sanders v Donovan); with real estate, the usual rules of international law provide that the trustee in bankruptcy (trustee) will require an order from the court where that property is situated to enforce their rights.

In general terms, all property (as so broadly defined) belonging to or vested in the bankrupt at the commencement of the bankruptcy forms part of the bankruptcy estate and will vest automatically in the trustee in bankruptcy (trustee) immediately upon their appointment.

There are, however, certain exceptions and qualifications to be aware of.

Exceptions to the general rule

Certain assets are specifically exempted under IA 1986, s 283 itself, and therefore do not form part of the bankruptcy estate:

  1. items of equipment/tools of trade/vehicles etc necessary for the bankrupt to continue to trade/earn a living. However, this is only in relation to physical items owned by the bankrupt at the time the bankruptcy order

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