350. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to amend the maintenance of the bankruptcy register to allow discharged bankrupts to be removed from the register after a certain period of time; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9939/18]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Bankruptcy Register is held by the Examiner’s Office, an office of the High Court.
The question of removal from the Register is complicated by the fact that under the Bankruptcy Acts, where a person is adjudicated bankrupt his or her property will, as a general rule, automatically vest on the date of adjudication in the Official Assignee, to be realised for the benefit of creditors.
While the bankrupt person is now, in normal course, discharged from bankruptcy after one year, any such property which has not yet been sold will, as a general rule, remain vested in the Official Assignee to be sold for the benefit of creditors.
The Bankruptcy Amendment Act 2015 introduced an exception to this general rule regarding the family home of the bankrupt person. Under this exception, the bankrupt person’s interest in their home will automatically re-vest in the bankrupt person, if the Official Assignee has not applied to Court for its sale before the third anniversary of the person being adjudicated bankrupt.
Because bankruptcy adjudication means that the bankrupt no longer owns their former property and cannot validly enter into any transactions regarding it, and because that property generally remains vested in the Official Assignee after the person is discharged from bankruptcy, the practice has been that solicitors for a purchaser of property will search on the Bankruptcy Register to verify that the vendor has not been adjudicated bankrupt.
I am advised that some jurisdictions do provide for removal from the register following discharge, but it must be borne in mind that conveyancing law and property registration systems can vary substantially, even between common law countries.
My officials are examining this issue and will keep it under review in the context of overall development of insolvency and bankruptcy registers.