Apply to bankrupt someone who owes you money


The bankruptcy petition form you fill in depends on whether:

You’ll also need to provide the following as part of the petition:

Presenting the petition

How you present the petition will depend on the debtor’s circumstances.

Submit the petition online if the debtor either:

  • lives in London and owes you £50,000 or more
  • has ‘no fixed abode’ (no fixed or regular address)

It’ll go to the High Court.

Otherwise, give the petition in person to the county court nearest to where the debtor lives or works.

If the debtor owns a business

Choose the court nearest to the debtor’s business address unless this changed in the last 6 months and they’ve been at their home address longer.

After you apply

You’ll need to give (‘serve’) a copy of the petition to the debtor in person.

If the debtor has an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) you’ll also need to give a copy to the supervisor.

Send the court a certificate of service (form N215) to confirm you’ve done this.

If your case is with the High Court you can only submit the certificate of service online. If it’s with another court you can send it there by post.

If you cannot serve the petition to the debtor in person

You can ask the court for permission to serve it in another way, for example by post.

You’ll have to provide a certificate of service confirming you’ve used a ‘substituted service’.

Court hearing

The court will tell you where and when the petition will be heard. This will be at least 14 days after you served the petition to the debtor.

The debtor can oppose the petition by giving the court a statement of truth at least 5 days before the hearing.

You must list the people that you want to appear and speak at the hearing.

The debtor and a supervisor of an IVA can also appear and speak at the hearing.

At the end of the hearing the court can:

  • stay (delay or stop) the petition
  • dismiss the petition
  • adjourn (postpone) the hearing
  • make a bankruptcy order

If the court dismisses your petition, you’ll get your petition deposit back minus a £50 fee.

Read more about what happens after a bankruptcy order is made.

After the hearing

An Official Receiver at the Insolvency Service will deal with the early stages of a bankruptcy. They will contact you within 12 weeks of the bankruptcy order being made.


You can appeal to the court if your petition is rejected.

Check with the court where you made your petition for how to appeal.