Areas of Practice
Bankruptcy Law in Singapore
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Bankruptcy or insolvency occur when individuals, businesses or companies are unable to meet their financial obligations to their creditors. In situations like these, creditors may take out bankruptcy or insolvency proceedings against the person or company. Alternatively, the debtor can also file for bankruptcy on their own accord.
At I.R.B. Law, we recognize that applying for bankruptcy can be frustrating. However, our commercial lawyers are well versed in handling bankruptcy and insolvency applications. With our help, applying for bankruptcy need not be a difficult process. We support our clients in all aspects of both contentious and non-contentious insolvencies—from advising you on the obligations and liabilities of insolvent companies to debt restructuring, to voluntary arrangements and bankruptcies.
If you are facing bankruptcy proceedings or anticipate that your business or company is at risk of becoming insolvent, our lawyers will be able to assist in defending against bankruptcy and insolvency applications, as well as other voluntary debt repayment schemes to avoid bankruptcy and insolvency.
Alternatively, if you are a creditor seeking to initiate bankruptcy or insolvency proceedings, our lawyers will provide you with sound legal advice on the merits and benefits of such an application, and will act on your behalf throughout the proceedings to ensure that your interests are protected at every stage.
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+ What happens when a person is declared bankrupt?
When a person is declared bankrupt, the Court will usually appoint an Official Assignee to administer the bankrupt’s financial affairs in order to repay his creditors. The Official Assignee is a public servant and an officer of the court.
Either the creditor or debtor can commence bankruptcy proceedings if the debtor:
- Is a Singaporean resident
- Owns property in Singapore
- Maintained a business in Singapore for at least one year before the bankruptcy application
- Owes money exceeding $10,000
- Is unable to pay the debt
If the debtor makes the application, the debtor will have to prove he is unable to pay the debt. On the other hand, if the creditor is the applicant, the creditor will have to prove that the debtor has liabilities exceeding his assets. We know that bankruptcy can have detrimental effects whether you are a debtor or creditor. That is why our lawyers are dedicated to helping you make your decisions in the most advantageous way for you.
Bankruptcy / Insolvency as a Creditor
+ As a creditor, should I initiate bankruptcy / insolvency proceedings?
A major priority for creditors is recovery of payments from debtors. However, commencement of bankruptcy proceedings may not guarantee the repayment of your debtor’s debts. Once a debtor is declared bankrupt, you may no longer take legal action to recover monetary claims from that arose before bankruptcy. Initiating bankruptcy or insolvency proceedings, unfortunately, requires more than just proof of debt as before a bankruptcy application will be granted, it is also necessary to demonstrate that the debtor’s liabilities exceed his assets.
Before commencing with the bankruptcy proceedings, a creditor should consider the following:
- The unlikelihood of recovering debts owed in full;
- Debts that have not been fully repaid after the bankrupt has been released from bankruptcy, as these will be nullified and creditors will be unable to seek repayment;
- The loss of interest from the principal sum owed.
There exist several presumptions under the law that may assist you in proving that the debtor’s liabilities exceed his assets. It may, for example, be more advantageous to issue your debtor a statutory demand as this will act as the referral for your debtor’s inability to repay his debt. Our commercial lawyers will carefully consider the circumstances and advise you on the best methods to approach a bankruptcy application.
+ What are my rights as a Creditor?
If you are creditor, you receive the rights to your debtor’s property or goods and will be able to sell them if your debtor does not continue to meet due payments. If your debtor’s assets are worth more than the debt that is owed, any balance will be forwarded to the Official Assignee to be distributed to the bankrupt’s other creditors. Our experienced lawyers will provide all this information to you and we will help you approach the matter in ways that will advantage you the most.
Bankruptcy as a Debtor – Defending Bankruptcy / Insolvency Proceedings
If you are a debtor and have found yourself unable to repay your debts, our lawyers will advise on the schemes available to assist you. For example, the debt repayment scheme allows the Official Assignee to step in and administer your finances so that your creditors can be repaid over a fixed duration. This scheme benefits both you and your creditors as your creditors will get repaid, whilst you avoid the many additional restrictions and social stigma attached to being adjudged a bankrupt.
Similarly, companies facing financial difficulties may benefit from the Judicial Management scheme. This is a scheme that allows the company to continue operations as a going concern under the judicial manager’s oversight. The judicial manager may reorganize the affairs of the company so that the company’s debts are paid off without having to resort to the winding up of the company.
If your company is, or you are, facing financial difficulties, an early intervention may save you from bankruptcy or being wound up. At I.R.B. Law, our experienced commercial lawyers are prepared to assist you in taking out the necessary applications. With us on your side, you will have advice on the best course of action to take and minimize the damages that can come with bankruptcy or insolvency.
+ What are the responsibilities of a Bankrupt?
As a bankrupt, you must inform the Official Assignee (OA) of all the properties you possess. You will also have to assist the OA in the selling and distribution of your properties. Although a bankrupt’s assets have been vested to the Official Assignee, you are still able to own a HDB flat. There are, however, restrictions in terms of travel. Before travelling, permission is required from the OA and if permission has not been obtained, you may be stopped at immigration and your passport impounded by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA).
This is not an exhaustive list of responsibilities. Our lawyers at I.R.B. Law can assist you with a comprehensive list of information of your rights and responsibilities after claiming bankruptcy. We will help manage your worries and assist you in your time of need.
I.R.B. Law is recognized as a team of leading Singapore bankruptcy and insolvency lawyers with a track record of success. Our lawyers have over a century of combined experience as litigators and are ready to assist you with your bankruptcy and insolvency matter.
We firmly believe that everyone should be entitled to a legal representation and be allowed the opportunity to turn over a new leaf and live life anew. Should you be in a position where you may need our assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.