Any court exercising bankruptcy jurisdiction in the district in which he resides or carries on business in England or Wales may make a receiving order against a debtor, whether a trader or not, either on his own petition or on that of a creditor or creditors whose claims aggregate not less than £50. In the case of a creditor's petition proof must be given of the debt, and of the commission of an act of bankruptcy within three months preceding the date of the petition. An act of bankruptcy is committed if the debtor fails to satisfy the creditor's claim upon a bankruptcy notice; if he makes an assignment for the benefit of his creditors generally; if he absconds or keeps house; if he gives notice of suspension of payments; if his goods are sold or seized under execution; if he files in court a declaration of inability to pay his debts; or if he grants a fraudulent preference or conveyance. These acts are here enumerated in the order in which they most frequently occur in practice.
The object of the order is to protect the debtor's property until the first meeting of creditors, and to bring the debtor and his affairs within the jurisdiction of the court. Its effect is to stay all separate action against the debtor, and to constitute the official receiver attached to the court receiver of the debtor's property, although the legal title still remains in the debtor. Where there is an estate or business to be managed the official receiver may appoint a special manager, who receives such remuneration as the creditors, or failing them the Board of Trade, may determine. As a consequence of the order the following obligations are imposed upon the debtor: - He must make out and submit to the official receiver within a prescribed period a statement of his affairs, containing the names and addresses of his creditors, the amount of their claims and the securities held by them, and the nature and value of his assets; and accounting for his deficiency. Any material omission or false statement of his losses or expenses is a misdemeanour under the Debtors Act, unless he can prove that he had no intention to defraud. The statement is open to the inspection of creditors.
He must also in every case submit to a public examination in court, in which the official receiver, the trustee and any creditor who has proved his debt may take part. His evidence may be used against him. He may further be specially examined by the court at any time with reference to his dealings or property. He must attend the first meeting of creditors, wait upon the official receiver, trustee and special manager, and give all necessary information, and generally do all acts which may reasonably be required of him with the view of securing a full investigation of his affairs. He may be arrested if there is reasonable ground for believing that he is about to abscond, destroy papers or remove goods, or if he fails without good cause to attend any examination ordered by the court. The court may also for a period of three months order his letters to be re-addressed by the post-office to the official receiver or trustee. With regard to persons other than the debtor, any person capable of giving information respecting the debtor, his dealings or property, may be examined by the court, and a summary order may be made against such person for delivery of any property belonging to the debtor.