In Hutchins v Edwards [2013] NZHC 336, the High Court declined an application for an adjournment by a debtor who sought further time to liquidate property in order to pay a judgment debt.

The initial judgment arose out of relationship property proceedings and required immediate payment of $375,000 by the debtor. Such payment was never made. A bankruptcy notice was issued and served on the debtor, but again, no payment was made. Accordingly, bankruptcy proceedings were filed and served. No steps were taken to file a defence. Before Associate Judge Doogue, the judgment debtor argued for an adjournment of a few months to allow the liquidation of property. The debtor argued that the adjournment was justified given that he had offered the creditor "many deals", but that she kept refusing them.

His Honour declined to grant an adjournment. The debtor had demonstrated his insolvency in that he was unable to pay his debts as they fell due. The fact that he had substantial assets did not cure this insolvency. The judgment had required "immediate payment" of the $375,000, and the creditor was not to blame for not accepting some deal other than cash payment. Accordingly, the adjournment was declined and the debtor was adjudicated bankrupt.

The case gives an indication of the disinclination of the courts to accommodate judgment debtors in circumstances when they have taken no steps to defend proceedings.

See court decision here.