If the official receiver believes you’ve been dishonest, haven’t co-operated with them or are responsible for making your debt situation worse before you become bankrupt, they may apply to the court for a bankruptcy restrictions order (BRO) to be made against you. If this happens, you’ll receive a notice of a bankruptcy restrictions order hearing.

This page explains what to do if you receive notice of a BRO court hearing.

Top tip

If a BRO is made against you, the restrictions you had to follow before your discharge from bankruptcy could be extended for anything up to 15 years. Generally, the worse your behaviour, the longer the BRO will last for.

More about BROs

What to expect if you receive notice of a BRO court hearing

If the official receiver wants a BRO to be made against you, you’ll receive notice of a BRO court hearing. You’ll either get a letter from them saying that they intend to apply for a BRO, or you’ll get notice of a BRO court hearing.

This is what you can expect to happen next:

  • the court will fix a hearing date, normally at least 6 weeks after the official receiver applied for the BRO hearing
  • you’ll be sent a copy of the report and application, including details of what the official receiver believes you’ve done and any supporting evidence they have
  • you must acknowledge that you’ve received the documents within 14 days
  • you can decide whether you want to challenge or accept the BRO application
  • if the hearing goes ahead the court may make a BRO, dismiss the application or delay proceedings while more evidence can be gathered
  • if the BRO is made, a copy is sent to you and the details go into the public insolvency register until the end of your BRO.

More about bankruptcy offences

Coronavirus – if you’re going to court

Some courts are closed and others are changing the way they work. You need to check how these changes will affect you on GOV.UK.

You can check how to prepare if the court arranges a hearing by phone or video call.

If you go to court in person, you’ll have to wear a mask or covering for your mouth and nose. If you don’t wear one, you won’t be allowed in the building. Some people don’t have to wear one – check who doesn’t have to wear a mask or face covering on GOV.UK.

If the court hasn’t told you how to attend your hearing, contact them to find out. You can search for their contact details on GOV.UK. 

If you accept the BRO application

If you accept the allegations that are made against you by the official receiver, you can offer to enter into a bankruptcy restrictions undertaking (BRU). This has exactly the same effect as a BRO but means you won’t have to go to court. If you offer to go into a BRU, this will normally be shorter than if the court made a BRO.

If you want to challenge the BRO application

If you disagree with the BRO application or think it’s unfair, you have 28 days to give the court your evidence showing why this is the case. This will be considered at the BRO hearing. When deciding whether you want to challenge the BRO application, think about the following:

  • if you dispute the allegations that have been made against you, do you have any evidence to support your case?
  • if you don’t have evidence to support your case, do you want to go through the stress of a court hearing?
  • thinking about your personal circumstances, would it be better to accept a BRU with a shorter period of restrictions than to run the risk of having a BRO made against you with a longer period of restrictions?

It’s a good idea to take independent legal advice if you want to challenge the BRO application.

Interim BROs

If there is a delay in investigating your case or the court can’t fix a hearing date for some time, the official receiver might apply for an interim BRO against you. If the court makes an interim BRO, you’ll have to keep following the bankruptcy restrictions until the hearing.

How the court decides whether to make a BRO

When it is deciding whether to make a BRO, the court and the official receiver will look at your behaviour before and after the bankruptcy order was made. They will ask themselves whether the public needs protecting from you, looking at things like:

  • the extent to which your creditors have lost out
  • how aware you were of your situation at the time of the behaviour
  • the likelihood of you doing it again.

If a BRO is made, the length of it will depend on how serious the court thinks your behaviour was. The worse your behaviour, the longer the BRO is likely to last.

If a BRO is made

If a BRO is made against you, the restrictions you’ve had to follow since being declared bankrupt will be extended for up to 15 years. Generally, the more serious your behaviour, the longer the restrictions will be extended for. You may also have some additional restrictions imposed upon you.

Next steps

More information

‘Information about bankruptcy restrictions orders’ – from the Insolvency Service at www.bis.gov.uk/insolvency