The High Court recently extended the bankruptcy period of an Irish businessman to a total of 13 years.

The usual bankruptcy term is one year, however this can be extended in cases of non-cooperation or non-disclosure of assets with the maximum term being 15 years.

In this instance, Mr Godfrey Lalor, who was adjudicated bankrupt in June 2014, was found to have attempted to conceal his interest in a valuable property in order to prevent it being realised for the benefit of his creditors. It was also found that he had given misleading evidence to the Court, failed to co-operate with inquiries and was characterised as having a "catch me if you can" approach in his dealings with the Official Assignee.

In considering the term of the bankruptcy extension, the Court endorsed the approach of the Official Assignee who submitted that:

it is essential for the integrity of the bankruptcy process that a bankrupt’s obligation to co-operate fully and disclose everything in relation to assets is strictly enforced. If that does not occur, the system is simply unworkable. It is in that context that the period should be assessed.”

Bankruptcy affords an individual an opportunity to seek relief from their debts, however there is an onus on a bankrupt not only to reply to any queries made by the Official Assignee, but to actively volunteer any relevant information. In the absence of fulsome engagement, the Official Assignee cannot carry out his functions and is left with no alternative but to make an application for an extension of the bankruptcy term.