Debtors ‘Can be Informed of Court Orders via Facebook’

February 23, 2015

Debtors who are facing insolvency proceedings but failing to cooperate with their appointed trustees can now be made aware of court orders made against them via Facebook, a UK court has ruled.

In what is believed to be the first instance of its kind, a county court judge in Tunbridge Wells recently ruled that insolvency practitioners could inform a no-show debtor of his having been ordered to appear in court through the social media platform.

It is understood that the ruling sets a notable precedent with Facebook now expected to play a more significant role in the way that bankruptcy proceedings play out and particularly in terms of the way that individual debtors are informed of their responsibilities at certain times.

The particular case in which the Tunbridge Wells judge decided to allow Facebook to be used as an official means of communication related to the affairs of a bankrupt Ferrari dealer from London.

The man is said to have consistently failed to cooperate with the trustee appointed to his bankruptcy case and to have continued trading as a car dealer despite being legally insolvent.

An order was made to suspend the man’s automatic discharge from bankruptcy in February 2012 but he has subsequently failed to work with his trustee or to turn up to court when instructed to be present.

However, it was made clear to the relevant judge recently that the man has remained active on Facebook and so a ruling was given that he should be informed via the social media platform that his presence will soon be required in court.

“This is understood to be the first decision of the bankruptcy court of its type and shows that the court is increasingly prepared to adopt a modern and practical approach to assist trustees in bankruptcy in dealing with difficult debtors,” said the insolvency practitioner working on the case.

Personal debt problems continue to plague thousands of households around the UK but in Scotland the rate of insolvency fell by more than 20 per cent year-on-year in the final quarter of 2014. However, there were still some 2,633 Scots who became officially insolvent in that three-month period.

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