A Look at a Recent Bankruptcy Petition and Application for Substituted Service How Debt-Claims Secured

Recently, Debt-Claims were instructed by a client  who wanted to present a bankruptcy petition against a former tenant, who owed around £50,000 in rent. The debtor had recently left his address and his whereabouts were unknown.

Initially, we drafted a statutory demand and instructed a process server to make attempts to serve. After attending the debtor’s last known address, it was confirmed that the debtor no longer resided there. Our client was also aware of a limited company for which the debtor was a director, however, the registered office was a virtual office. Our process server managed to contact the debtor by phone, who refused to give details of his current address but insisted that he had a mail re-direct from his previous address to his current address and he would receive correspondence accordingly. As such, the statutory demand was served by posting copies to his last known address and care of his company’s office address.

No payment was received following service and a bankruptcy petition was presented to the High Court of Justice in London. Attempts were again made to serve the sealed bankruptcy petition on the debtor personally, but to no avail; staff at his company’s virtual office however confirmed that they do forward correspondence on to the debtor directly.

In lieu of personal service being affected and no employer being located for the debtor, we obtained an order for substituted service that allowed us to serve the petition on the debtor by way of posting the same.

Whilst payment in this case was always unlikely and this was a factor the client knew, they took the decision that the appropriate action would be to force the debtor into bankruptcy. In doing so, this allows for an insolvency practitioner to be appointed and properly see over the debtor’s finances.

Whilst not every order for substituted service is achieved as quickly as in this case, there is usually an effective way to serve most debtors where personal service is not possible – such as by advertising in newspapers (which could be located in the debtor’s geographical area) or by email.

Recent cases have also seen courts allow service of documents in civil proceedings by Facebook and Twitter in civil law matters. Whilst these didn’t involve bankruptcy proceedings, the scope is there to use modern methods of communicating in order to bring about just results.

If you wish to serve a statutory demand or petition on a debtor (individual or company) then head over to our online portal where you can instruct us in a matter of moments.

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