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Bankruptcy, charging orders and committal to prison

Applying to make you bankrupt

If your total debt exceeds £5,000, we can apply to make you bankrupt. 

This means that any assets, such as property, shares or savings, may be used to clear your debts.

Costs involved in this action can be substantial but can be recovered from the person subject to the order. 

Applying for a charging order against your property

A charging order is a way of securing the debt against your property. 

We can apply to the court for a charging order if you owe £1,000 or more for a property you own.

If you sell your home, you will have to repay the debt first, before you are given any of the sale proceeds. 

We can also take steps to force the sale of your property.

Payments can still be made to reduce the debt. 

If the debt is paid in full, including costs, the charge will be removed.

Committal to prison

If enforcement agents (bailiffs) have been unable to collect the debt and none of the other methods are appropriate or successful, we can go back to the Magistrates’ Court and ask for you to be committed to prison:

  • you'll have to give a full account of your financial circumstances, from when you first fell into debt to the present
  • if you do not attend court, warrants will be sought for your arrest
  • you can be sent to prison for up to 90 days

A prison sentence can be suspended to allow you to clear the debt at a rate ordered by the court.

If you fall behind on a court order you must contact us as soon as possible. The court can reduce your payments, but only if you attend court again - we'll arrange this.

If your case comes back to court and the magistrates are not satisfied with your reasons for not paying they can activate the prison sentence.

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