Facts

A Trustee in Bankruptcy (‘TiB’) applied for committal of a bankrupt (‘B’) for contempt for repeated failure to provide financial information sought in conjunction with an application for an Income Payment Order (‘IPO’).

B had a history of non-compliance with his obligations under the IA 1986. It was his second bankruptcy and the first had been suspended for failure to cooperate with the TiB. The initial IPO application had been made by the OR in circumstances where it had not been possible to agree terms of an Income Payment Agreement. The TiB was appointed one day before automatic discharge to pursue the application and did not have time to apply for suspension.

The TiB had obtained various orders requiring disclosure of the information sought (including in connection with freezing order). B had provided witness statements but it was averred by the TiB that the information given was demonstrably inadequate, particularly in circumstances where B’s financial affairs were complex.

B failed to attend the hearing, purportedly on medical grounds, but provided no evidence as to the same. The court held that, on the facts, it could take the exceptional course of hearing the application in B’s absence, and that the allegations of contempt had been established to the extent indicated.

Held

The court accepted the TiB’s position that, even from the partial and wholly inadequate information provided, it was not up to the TiB to have to trawl through bank statements and other documents to ascertain the information that B was ordered to provide. The onus was firmly on B to provide a detailed statement of means, specifying sources of income and expenditure.

The application in respect of sentence was adjourned. It was perceived there may be a practical benefit to deferring the issue because it would provide an additional incentive to B to comply in the interim.