26th Apr 2017 | Articles

Natasha Jackson writes for the Corporate Rescue and Insolvency on: No limits: the indefinite suspension of a bankrupt’s discharge – Harris v Official Receiver.


KEY POINTS

  • –In Harris v Official Receiver [2016] EWHC 3433 (Ch) the court confirmed it may order a conditional indefinite suspension of a bankruptcy under s 279(3)(b) of the Insolvency Act 1986 having previously ordered a fixed-term suspension under s 279(3)(a), and may do so before the initial suspension has expired.
  • ––Before doing so, the court must be satisfied that there are good grounds justifying such an order and that there has been a change of circumstances since the initial order was made.

BACKGROUND
A bankruptcy order was made against Mr Robert Harris on 9 August 2013. Mr Robert Knight was appointed as his
trustee in bankruptcy on 20 November 2013.

The court suspended Mr Harris’ automatic discharge from bankruptcy, which would normally take effect after one year, until 31 October 2014 under s279(3)(a) of the Insolvency Act 1986 (IA 1986). It was explained to Mr Harris at the hearing by District Judge Green that the order was made with a view to Mr Harris assisting the Official Receiver (‘the OR’) with supplemental information, including details of his income and expenses. The order itself, however, was not subject to any express conditions requiring such cooperation.

A second application was made by the OR on 30 September 2014, seeking the indefinite suspension of the discharge on the grounds of his continued lack of cooperation. An order in Mr Harris’ absence was made on 17 October 2014 suspending the bankruptcy discharge until 18 January 2015 to allow for the proper service of the OR’s application, and  he hearing of that application was adjourned to 5 January 2015.


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