Irish Bankruptcy Tourism Growing in the UK

Last post: Jun 19, 2012

Irish bankruptcy tourism is becoming a thing

Last week, the lead singer of the Irish boy band Westlife, Shane Filan, declared himself bankrupt in the United Kingdom, even though he is an Irish national. For many, this brought confusion and some consternation – after all, why is he declaring himself bankrupt in the UK when he isn't even a British national? Well, the issue is much wider than just Mr Filan, as many Irish nationals are taking the same route as him, as they attempt to get round the stringent Irish bankruptcy laws. In Ireland, bankruptcy is a much harder thing to accomplish, and equally as important is the fact that there is still a huge stigma attached to doing so. For Irish citizens looking to file for bankruptcy, they face the daunting prospect of being blacklisted for 12 years, which is obviously a big burden to shoulder; this is in stark contrast to those in the UK, who only have to ensure this for 12 months. In addition to this, employers in Ireland look incredibly unfavourably on those with a history of bankruptcy – something that declaring bankruptcy in England can hide somewhat. So how are Irish citizens managing to declare bankruptcy in the UK? Well, it does take a bit of planning. They firstly have to establish themselves in the UK, usually by renting a home and registering to vote in the country and also often by finding permanent employment – they can't simply hop on a plane and be back in Ireland by teatime. Essentially, they have to emigrate for nearly a year, which can be a tough situation to be in. After an Irish citizen has lived in the UK for over six months, they are then eligible to apply for bankruptcy, although this will necessitate the filling in of a rather long winded 26 page form. When this is done, it is simply a case of waiting for a court date, with the court hearing usually only lasting for a few minutes, unless there are complications. Three months later, the bankrupt person can return to Ireland and still use their English bank account, therefore getting round the problem of not being able to have an Irish bank account for 12 years. With the economic situation in Ireland still very poor, it is expected that more and more people will start coming to the UK to engage in bankruptcy tourism – with some people now looking to write off debts of millions of euros, instead of the usual €40k-€50k of the past. This is mainly due to the collapse of the Irish property market – the same thing that caught out Westlife's Shane Filan – which has led to many investors losing all of their savings and businesses going under on a regular basis. When this is combined with decreased job prospects and a decrease in public spending, the signs are not looking up quite yet for the Irish For anyone looking for more information on UK Bankruptcy (whether an Irish or UK citizen) contact us on 0845 1260350 (from overseas +44 1494 410125) and we can get you speaking with a qualified expert.