If the creditors so resolve, or if a composition or scheme of arrangement is not proposed by the debtor or entertained by the creditors, or if entertained is not approved by the court, or if without reasonable excuse the debtor fails to furnish a proper statement of his affairs, or if his public examination is adjourned sine die, the court adjudicates the debtor bankrupt and thereupon his property vests in a trustee, and, subject to the payment of the costs and fees of administration, is divisible among his creditors until all his debts are paid in full with interest at the rate of 4% per annum.
The bankrupt is bound to aid the trustee in his administration, and if he wilfully fails to deliver up any part of his property he is guilty of contempt of court. He is also liable to criminal prosecution under the Debtors Act if with intent to defraud he conceals or removes property to the value of £10 or upwards; or if he fails to deliver to the trustee all his property, books, documents, etc.; or if he knowingly permits false debts to be proved on his estate without disclosure; or mutilates, falsifies, destroys or parts with books or accounts; or attempts to account for his property by fictitious losses; or if within four months next before presentation of a bankruptcy petition, he obtains property on credit by false representation; or pledges or disposes of, otherwise than in the ordinary way of his trade, any property which has not been paid for; or by misrepresentation obtains the assent of his creditors to any agreement with reference to his affairs. He is also under the act of 1883, guilty of misdemeanour if before his discharge he obtains credit for more than £20 from any person without informing such person that he is an undischarged bankrupt.
It is the duty of the official receiver to report any such facts to the court, and if the court is satisfied that there is a reasonable probability of conviction, it is required to order a prosecution which is then conducted by the director of public prosecutions.
A bankrupt cannot during his bankruptcy or until five years after his discharge, unless the bankruptcy is annulled or he obtains his discharge with a certificate by the court that the bankruptcy was caused by misfortune without misconduct, act as a member of the legislature, or as a justice of the peace, mayor, alderman, councillor, guardian or overseer of the poor, member of a sanitary authority, school, highway or burial board, or select vestry in any part of the United Kingdom.
An order of adjudication may be annulled if the court is of opinion that it should not have been made, or that the bankrupt's debts are paid in full, or if a composition or scheme of arrangement is approved by the court after adjudication.
The court may also at any time after the conclusion of the bankrupt's public examination, and after hearing the official receiver, the trustee and any creditor, to all of whom previous notice of the application must be given, grant the bankrupt a discharge either absolutely or under conditions, but subject to the following qualifications, viz.: - (1) If the bankrupt has committed a criminal offence connected with the bankruptcy, the application must be refused unless for special reasons the court determines otherwise. (2) If the assets are not equal in value to ten shillings in the pound of the unsecured liabilities (unless the bankrupt can show that he is not responsible); or if proper books have not been kept; or if the bankrupt has traded after knowledge of insolvency; or has contracted debts without reasonable probability of payment; or failed to account for his deficiency; or contributed to the bankruptcy by rash speculation, gambling, culpable neglect or by unjustifiable expenses; or has taken or defended legal proceedings on frivolous grounds; or has within three months preceding the receiving order given an undue preference; or has increased his liabilities with the view of making his assets equal to ten shillings in the pound; or has previously been bankrupt or made an arrangement with creditors; or has been guilty of any fraud or fraudulent breach of trust; then the court shall, on proof of any of these facts, either (a) refuse the discharge, or (b) suspend it for a period of not less than two years, or until a dividend of not less than ten shillings in the pound has been paid; or (c) qualify the order by the condition that judgment is entered up against the bankrupt for payment of any unpaid balance of his debts, or of part of such balance out of his future earnings or property.
The bankrupt may, however, after two years apply to the court to modify the conditions if he is unable to comply with them. An order of discharge releases the debtor from all his obligations except debts due to the crown, and other obligations of a public character which can only be discharged with the consent of the Treasury, debts incurred by fraud, and judgment debts in an action for seduction or as a co-respondent in a matrimonial suit or under an affiliation order, which are only released to such extent and subject to such conditions as the court may expressly order. The release of the bankrupt does not operate as a release of any partner or co-obligant with him. Neither does it release the bankrupt from liability to criminal prosecution.