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Bankrupt ordered to attend court via Facebook

Trustee in bankruptcy posts on debtor's Facebook page.Following a remarkably “modern” decision made by an English court, a trustee in bankruptcy was able to advise a bankrupt that he had to attend a court hearing by posting  a notification on the bankrupt’s Facebook wall.

The District Judge at Tunbridge Wells county court ordered that the trustee could tell the bankrupt Ferrari dealer, who had hitherto ignored requests for information from his trustee,  that he must attend court, by posting on the debtor’s Facebook page.

It is thought that this is the first time a trustee in bankruptcy has used a social media platform to bring a formal notification to the attention of a bankrupt.

Licensed insolvency practitioner, Simon Bonney, of the insolvency firm Quantuma, said the court’s decision shows ” that the court is increasingly prepared to adopt a modern and practical approach to assist trustees in bankruptcy in dealing with difficult debtors.”

After being made bankrupt, the London-based debtor failed to cooperate both with the Official Receiver and subsequently with his trustee in bankruptcy. As a result of the lack of cooperation the debtor’s automatic discharge from bankruptcy was suspended but the bankrupt continued to ignore communications and requests for information from his trustee and the trustee’s solicitors.

In an effort to seek the required information from the bankrupt regarding his financial affairs, the trustee made an application to court for the bankrupt to attend court and answer questions under oath in front of a Judge about his financial affairs. The court duly made the order and the bankrupt agreed to attend the court to answer the trustee’s questions. On the day of the hearing the debtor failed to appear. Indeed he telephoned to advise that he was leaving the country and returning to Romania.

The continued non-cooperation resulted in the District Judge ordering that the trustee in bankruptcy could use Facebook to notify the bankrupt of his required attendance at court.

The decision made in the Tunbridge Wells county court will be welcomed by licensed insolvency practitioners throughout England and Wales who now have an additional tool in their armoury to bring uncooperative bankrupts to book.

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