Alternatives to Bankruptcy
1. Advice for Debtors
Do not ignore your creditors' Letters of Demand, Statutory Demands, or Writs of summons from the Court. You can be made a bankrupt even if you refuse to respond to your creditors or decline to accept service of their documents.
2. Reasons to avoid bankruptcy
Difficulties in looking for a job
Restrictions in traveling overseas
Restrictions in obtaining credit greater than $1,000
Restrictions in managing a business or acting as a director of a company
No automatic discharge from bankruptcy in Singapore
3. Advice for creditors
Commencing bankruptcy proceedings will not guarantee the full recovery of the debts owed. You should only commence bankruptcy proceedings against your debtor when all other debt recovery options have been exhausted.
Other reasons to consider before commencing bankruptcy proceedings:
- The cost of bankruptcy proceedings
- The loss of interest on the principal sum owed after the making of the Bankruptcy Order
- The low likelihodd of recovering debts in full
- After the bankrupt’s discharge from bankruptcy, debts which are not fully settled will be extinguished and creditors will not be able to further pursue the debts. (There are certain types of debts which will not be extinguished e.g. Debts owed to the Singapore Government that remain unpaid will not be extinguished even after the bankrupt’s discharge from bankruptcy.)
4. Private Arrangement
Debtors may enter into a private arrangement with creditors to pay off their debts in instalments or in scheduled repayments. Debtors can also request for an extension of time to liquidate their assets to repay their debts.
Debtors should inform creditors of their latest financial position. They should provide information and documentary evidence truthfully and completely to prove their current financial position.
Debtors should make serious effort in keeping up with their repayment after entering into the arrangement.
5. Assistance from Credit Counseling Singapore
Debtors may also seek assistance from Credit Counseling Singapore at the following contact:
Credit Counselling Singapore
210 Middle Road #05-04
General line: 6338 2663 | Fax: 6338 6586
Email: [email protected]sg
6. Voluntary Arrangement
Debtors may apply to Court for an interim order for a Voluntary Arrangement (VA). The VA is a negotiated debt settlement under Part V of the Bankruptcy Act. The debtor discloses his assets and liabilities, and makes a proposal on how he intends to settle his debts with various creditors. If the proposal is accepted by the creditors and implemented successfully, it will benefit both the debtor and his creditors.
7. Court Dispute Resolution
If you are a debtor being sued by your creditor under civil proceedings, you may negotiate for a settlement of the repayment of your debts and avoid bankruptcy.
8. Oral Legal Advice
The information provided above on bankruptcy matters is by no means exhaustive. You may wish to consult your solicitor before making any decision concerning bankruptcy. If you are unable to afford a solicitor, you may obtain legal advice from the Legal Aid Bureau ("LAB"). For more information, please visit LAB's website.
9. Debt Repayment Scheme
The Debt Repayment Scheme (DRS) is a repayment scheme to assist debtors who have a regular income and debts not exceeding $100,000, to avoid bankruptcy.
The DRS is triggered by a bankruptcy application. When such an application is made to the High Court and the debt owed does not exceed S$100,000, the High Court may refer the debtor to the Official Assignee for an assessment of the debtor’s eligibility and suitability to enter into the DRS. If the debtor satisfies the relevant criteria, an administrator will devise a repayment plan requiring regular debt repayments to the creditors over a fixed period of time. Debtors who do not comply with the conditions of the scheme will be failed from the DRS. These debtors may subsequently face another bankruptcy application filed against them and be made bankrupt by the High Court.
For further information, please refer to the DRS page on this website.
Filing for Bankruptcy
1. How does a debtor become a bankrupt?
A Bankruptcy Application is filed in the High Court by either the debtor or a creditor. The debtor owes debts of at least $15,000 which he cannot repay. The High Court may then declare him a bankrupt at the court hearing.
2. Debtor's own application for bankruptcy
The Official Assignee does not provide advice on the procedure for a debtor to file his own application for bankruptcy. Debtors may also wish to refer to the Supreme Court’s website https://www.supremecourt.gov.sg for further details on bankruptcy proceedings.
Applying for one’s bankruptcy should not be viewed as an easy solution to one’s debts woes. Debtors should look for alternative solutions to settle their debts before considering applying for their own bankruptcy.
3. Creditor's application for bankruptcy
Before filing a Bankruptcy Application, a creditor will issue a notice known as a Statutory Demand, demanding payment from a debtor. If the payment is not met within the deadline stipulated in the Statutory Demand, the creditor will file a Bankruptcy Application against the debtor in the High Court and a court hearing date for the case will be set. If payment is not made by the hearing date, the High Court may proceed to make a Bankruptcy Order and declare the debtor a bankrupt.
4. Are there other costs involved in filing a bankruptcy application?
Any creditor or debtor who wishes to file a Bankruptcy Application in the High Court must pay a deposit of $1,850 to the Official Assignee for the administration of the bankrupt’s estate. The creditor applying for the bankruptcy may recover this deposit if there are sufficient funds in the bankrupt’s estate. The deposit of $1,850 will not be refunded to a bankrupt who has applied for his own bankruptcy.
If the Bankruptcy Application is dismissed by the High Court or if it is withdrawn, the Official Assignee will retain $50 as preliminary administration costs under the Bankruptcy (Fees) Rules and refund $1,800 to the applicant who has filed the bankruptcy application.