Discharge from bankruptcy
What is discharge from bankruptcy?
Discharge is a process that takes away the restrictions of bankruptcy and releases you from most of the debts you owed at the date the bankruptcy order was made. You will normally get your discharge automatically, even if no payments have been made to your creditors, you are still making contributions under an income payments order or income payments agreement or some of your assets have not yet been sold.
Discharge does not mean that any bankruptcy assets not realised (sold to somebody) will be returned to you. These stay in the bankruptcy estate. However, see ‘What will happen to my home? (DOC, 1.5 Mb) ’ publication.
When will I be discharged?
You will usually be automatically discharged after 12 months, on the first anniversary of the bankruptcy order, but there are different dates which might apply to you.
For all bankruptcy orders made on or before 30 September 2013 If the official receiver has finished their enquiries into your bankruptcy they may send a notice of early discharge to court. You will be discharged on the date this notice is filed in court. You will be sent a copy of the notice so that you will know when you are discharged.
Any Orders made on or after 1 October 2013 will no longer be considered for an early discharge as a result of changes to the law.
For more information see the publication When will my bankruptcy end. for information on discharge.
If you do not co-operate, such as not giving information when asked to do so, the official receiver or trustee may ask the court to stop your discharge taking place. This is called ‘suspension of discharge’. If your discharge has been suspended you will need to contact the office that is dealing with your bankruptcy to ask what you need to do to get your discharge.
The automatic discharge after one year applies to all bankruptcy orders, so it doesn’t matter whether or not it is someone’s second, third, fourth, etc, time. Likewise, just because someone is bankrupt for a second time does not prevent early discharge, if appropriate (see above regarding changes to early discharge for orders made on or after 1 October 2013).
How do I get my discharge?
You do not have to do anything if you are discharged automatically. If your discharge has been suspended you will need to contact the office that is dealing with your bankruptcy to ask what you need to do to get your discharge. If you would like proof of your discharge, you can get a certificate of discharge from the court that dealt with your bankruptcy. You should not write to the court sooner than two weeks before your discharge date. Give your name, address and court number, taken from the latest correspondence about your bankruptcy. You should receive a certificate confirming your discharge within about four weeks.
Will the court charge me for a certificate of discharge?
The court will charge a fee of £70 for issuing a certificate of discharge. Further copies will cost £5 each.
If you write to the office that dealt with your bankruptcy they will provide a letter confirming your date of discharge. There is no charge for this.
The notice of early discharge, stamped by the court, should be accepted as proof of your discharge if you have been given an early discharge.
Will my discharge be advertised?
Your discharge will not be advertised as a matter of course. If you want your discharge to be advertised, you can ask for the official receiver to do this. You will have to pay the costs of the advertisement before it is done.
Am I likely to be given an early discharge?
An early discharge will only be considered if your bankruptcy order was made on or before 30 September 2013. Early discharge will no longer be considered for bankruptcy orders made after that date following changes to the law
No one has an automatic right to be given an early discharge from bankruptcy.
The official receiver will review your file three months after the report to your creditors has been issued. This report is issued within eight weeks of the bankruptcy order. If the official receiver believes there are no further matters for investigation they will begin the early discharge process.
If you do not co-operate with the official receiver and answer letters as quickly and fully as possible you will not get an early discharge. If early discharge is appropriate, the official receiver will tell your creditors that they intend to send notice of early discharge to the court. Your creditors have 28 days to lodge any objection to your early discharge. If any objections are received the process will be suspended while the official receiver considers if any objections are valid. Only if no objections are received, or once any objections have been resolved, will the official receiver send notice of early discharge to the court. You will be sent a copy of the notice stamped by the court notifying you of your discharge date.
I’ve been discharged recently. Why are my details still on the Individual Insolvency Register?
The Individual Insolvency Register contains records of bankruptcy orders, debt relief orders and individual voluntary arrangements in England and Wales. The record of your bankruptcy will remain on the register for three months after the date of your discharge. Search The Individual Insolvency Register online. For further information, please read ‘The Individual Insolvency Register (DOC, 2.2 Mb) ’ publication.
Will I be released from all of my bankruptcy debts once I am discharged?
When you are discharged you will be released (freed) from most debts that you incurred before the bankruptcy order. There are some debts you are not freed from. These include:
- any money owed under family court proceedings such as maintenance or CSA payments;
- any personal injury claims against you, unless the court directs otherwise;
- any court fines;
- any debts arising from fraud or certain other crimes;
- debts you incur after the bankruptcy order;
- all outstanding student loans.
Your assets after discharge
No assets you acquire after your discharge can be claimed by the trustee in bankruptcy.
Any assets that the official receiver or the trustee held or claimed during your bankruptcy remain under their control. They are not returned to you on discharge. It may be some time after your discharge before all your assets are dealt with.
If your home has not been dealt with in a certain period, usually three years from the date of the bankruptcy order, your interest in it may be returned to you. Please read ‘What will happen to my home? (DOC, 1.5 Mb) ’ which explains this more fully.
Why doesn’t my credit reference file show that I have been discharged from my bankruptcy?
The official receiver does not send any form of notice to credit reference agencies, so they will not know when you are discharged from bankruptcy, unless you pay the official receiver to publicly advertise it.
If you want your discharge recorded on your credit reference file, you should send confirmation to each of the credit reference agencies. A certificate of discharge from the court, notice of early discharge, or a letter from the official receiver confirming the date of your discharge should be suitable. You should ask them to update your credit reference file.
The bankruptcy entry will remain on your credit reference file for 6 years from the date of the bankruptcy order, when it will be removed automatically.
The Information Commissioner's Office has produced a leaflet called ‘Credit Explained’. You can get a copy of this leaflet from the Information Commissioner’s Office website at www.ico.gov.uk or from their Publication Order Line (telephone 08453 091 091).
How can I get the Land Charges entries removed now I am discharged?
When a bankruptcy order is made, it is recorded in the Land Charges Register held by HM Land Registry. The entry lasts for five years, but you can apply to court to have the land charges entries removed once you are discharged from bankruptcy.
The land charges entries are not the same as a bankruptcy restriction or Form J restriction, which are entries in the Land Registry against specific properties. These cannot be removed until the trustee in bankruptcy has realised (sold to somebody) their interest in the property or the property re-vests (transfers back to you). If this happens, the trustee will apply for the re-vesting to be shown on the register.
Further enquiries about being discharged from bankruptcy
If you still have unanswered questions about being discharged from bankruptcy, you can contact The Insolvency Enquiry Line on 0845 602 9848 – between 8.00am and 5.00pm Monday – Friday except bank holidays; or email: Insolvency.EnquiryLine@insolvency.gsi.gov.uk