Jersey's bankruptcy law 'could be updated'

A proposal to change Jersey's bankruptcy law is being opened up to public consultation.

The introduction of Viscount's Remission Orders (VRO) is aimed at helping people stuck in a "a never-ending cycle of debt".

It would allow debts to be frozen and if the order was in place for a year debts could be written off completely.

Under the current system anyone being declared bankrupt involves formal court proceedings.

The proposals would allow the Viscount, the Royal Court's executive officer, to freeze assets based on the recommendation of an authorised intermediary and after taking into account the economic and social implications of individual cases.

For an order to be issued for a person they would also need to meet certain criteria.

Once an order is registered objections could be lodged and the Viscount could also request more information before resolving any queries, during which time the order could be suspended.

The suggested intermediary is the Jersey Citizen's Advice Bureau, which reported a rise in the amount of people requesting its help with debts in 2012.

Senator Sir Philip Bailhache, assistant chief minister, said: "It is designed for genuine cases where people have no reasonable prospect of repaying their debts.

"It does not mean debts are not taken seriously and it will allow creditors to voice any concerns they may have during the VRO process."

The scheme is similar to the Debt Relief Order used in England and Wales.

The consultation is available on the States of Jersey website and is due to close on 12 April.

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