In Re Willis, Eileen Willis (Anne) applied to annul a bankruptcy order made against her on the application of her former husband, Leslie Willis.
In the course of lengthy and ongoing relationship property proceedings, Anne was ordered by the Court to pay Leslie $12,263.50 in costs and disbursements. Leslie filed bankruptcy proceedings to recover the costs award and Anne was adjudicated bankrupt on 2 June 2016. Anne applied to annul the bankruptcy order on the grounds that it should never have been made because it was an abuse of process, and her former husband's part in it was oppressive.
The Court used its discretion under s 309(1)(a) of the Insolvency Act 2006 to annul the adjudication after examining the wider narrative put to it by Anne. That included the fact that the debt was a comparative pittance to the amount she would receive once the relationship property had been divided, and the public interest was not served by keeping Anne in bankruptcy for a minor debt she would pay as soon as her relationship property was released to her.
Further, Leslie had considerable influence over Anne's solvency because, as a trustee of a family trust, Leslie had the power to make a distribution to Anne as a discretionary beneficiary to achieve the trust's express purpose of applying net income to "manage assets … for the advancement or benefit of the beneficiaries". Thus, Leslie applied to bankrupt his former wife seemingly for no good reason except to exacerbate her stress, complicate her legitimate claim in relationship property proceedings, and prolong its final resolution. Leslie had nothing to gain except Anne's pain and deliberately chose bankruptcy as a "weapon of oppression".
See the full court's decision here.