The Northern Ireland High Court has annulled a bankruptcy order made with procedural irregularities that would have allowed the debtor to escape the much heavier consequences of a debt in the Republic of Ireland.

The petitioner in Northern Ireland sought bankruptcy on the basis of non-payment of a £1,401.50 debt. In contrast, the debtor owed around €7.2 million in the Republic of Ireland, including a debt of approximately €5.5 million to ACC Bank Limited, which was seeking to bankrupt him in the Republic. The debtor, Mr McCann was bankrupted in Northern Ireland after an expedited hearing at which he was unrepresented. The hearing had been brought forward by the petitioner specifically to ensure that Mr McCann was subject to the jurisdiction of the Northern Ireland courts, and no notice was given to ACC Bank, despite both the petitioner and Mr McCann being aware of its bankruptcy petition in the Republic.

If Mr McCann was bankrupted in Northern Ireland, he would be automatically discharged from bankruptcy after one year. In contrast, if he was successfully bankrupted in the Republic of Ireland, he would be subject to bankruptcy for up to twelve years. The Court found that there was no statutory authority for the expedited hearing, and there was no jurisdiction to make the order for bankruptcy without full evidence from all parties and without notice to ACC Bank. The bankruptcy order was therefore annulled.

See court decision here.