A bankrupt was found to be in contempt of court following years of failing to comply with the terms of multiple court orders compelling him to disclose information about his financial affairs with a view to entering into an IPOA.

The Facts

The respondent (R) was made bankrupt on 4 October 2004. He was never discharged due to steadfastly failing to cooperate with his obligations to disclose financial information. R was made bankrupt a second time in 2013, but was automatically discharged from this on the year anniversary of the making of that bankruptcy order.

The present case concerned the application of the exasperated trustee in bankruptcy for the committal of R following various breaches of multiple orders of the court. In total, the court had, over the years, issued five orders demanding the provision of financial information with increasingly robust sanctions in an attempt to glean a clear view of R’s financial position. Any information elicited appeared only to confuse the position and beg more questions.

The application was heard in the absence of R who had left the country for health issues.


Warren J considered it appropriate that the present application be heard in the absence of R by reference to the checklist set out in JSC BTA Bank v Solodchenk [2011] EWHC 1613 (Ch) which required the Judge to consider (amongst other things) whether:

  • The absent party had been served with notice of the hearing (with sufficient time to prepare for the hearing) and all other necessary documentation;
  • Any reason had been given for the absence;
  • An adjournment was likely to secure attendance by the absent party;
  • Any undue prejudice would be caused to the applicant by any delay.

Warren J was satisfied that the criminal standard of proof necessary to establish contempt of court was met, based in part on R’s continued failure to disclose assets which he in fact owned; failure in his obligation in respect of full and frank disclosure; and failure to disclose income resulting from spread-betting.

The application for sentencing was adjourned.

Re Ellison (A Bankrupt); Hicken (as Trustee in Bankruptcy of Ellison) v Ellison [2016] EWHC 2791 (Ch)