Sequestration (Scotland)

If you find yourself struggling with unmanageable debt and you’re a resident of Scotland, sequestration could help you regain control over your financial situation. Sequestration is the Scottish equivalent of bankruptcy and serves as a formal debt solution for individuals who owe money they can’t reasonably pay back. 

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In this guide we’ll examine sequestration in detail, including what types of debts it can help you with, who can initiate the bankruptcy process, what happens at the end of sequestration, and the alternatives available in Scotland to help you address problem debt.

What is Sequestration in Scotland?

Sequestration, commonly known as bankruptcy, is a formal debt solution in Scotland. It is a legal process designed to help individuals who are overwhelmed by debt and cannot afford to pay back what they owe.

Sequestration provides a structured and supervised means for debt relief, offering eligible individuals a chance for a fresh financial start if they're willing to surrender their assets and adhere to the terms of the arrangement.

While the aim of sequestration is to provide individuals struggling with unmanageable debt an opportunity to regain control of their finances, the process comes with severe financial consequences. As such, it should always be considered as a last resort when other alternatives have been exhausted.

What debts can be included in Sequestration?

Unsecured debts

The main purpose of sequestration is to address unsecured debts. Unsecured debts are financial obligations that are not tied to an asset, such as a house or a car. 

Common unsecured debt that can be covered by sequestration include:

  • Personal loans
  • Credit card debts
  • Payday loans
  • Overdrafts
  • Utility bill arrears

These kinds of debts can weigh heavily on individuals, making sequestration a suitable option to manage them and eventually write them off.

What debts are excluded from Sequestration?

Secured debts

In contrast to unsecured debts, sequestration does not cover secured debts, which are linked to specific assets like a mortgage on your home or a car loan. It also doesn’t cover debts like court fines. 

Here are some common examples of debts that aren’t eligible for inclusion in sequestration:

  • Mortgage arrears
  • Car finance loans
  • Unpaid child maintenance payments
  • Court fines and other criminal charges

If you carry any of the debts above, you will remain responsible for making payments on these obligations, even after entering the sequestration process.

Who initiates the bankruptcy process in Scotland?

Bankruptcy petition lodged by creditors

Creditors, the people you owe money to, can initiate the bankruptcy process in Scotland by lodging a bankruptcy petition against you in court.

When creditors believe that you are unable to repay your debts, they may seek legal action to recover the funds they are owed. This action can prompt the court to consider sequestration as a solution.

If your creditors are successful with their bankruptcy petition, and the court agrees that you owe the money at issue, they will initiate bankruptcy proceedings against you and order you to comply fully with the process.

Initiating your own Sequestration

Initiating your own Sequestration is a proactive approach when your debts become unmanageable. By voluntarily applying for sequestration, you acknowledge that your debts have become unsustainable. 

This process comes with important implications, including bankruptcy status, adherence to bankruptcy restrictions, and ongoing support from Insolvency Practitioners or approved money advisers, however it could mark the start of the process to regain control of your finances.

What does the Sequestration process look like?

The path to sequestration in Scotland is a structured one, involving several crucial steps. Here's a closer look at the key stages in the sequestration process:

Seek debt advice

Before embarking on the sequestration journey, it is essential to seek professional debt advice. Expert guidance is offered by debt charities, debt advice companies, or Insolvency Practitioners in Scotland.

These professionals can help you determine if sequestration is the most suitable solution for your specific financial circumstances.

Work with an Insolvency Practitioner on your application

If you decide that sequestration is the right path, you will need to formally apply through an approved money adviser.

An approved money adviser (or approved money advisor) can help guide you through the application process, which entails filling out forms that detail your financial situation and paying the necessary fees.

Submit your application to the Accountant in Bankruptcy

Your application will be submitted to the Accountant in Bankruptcy, the government agency responsible for overseeing sequestrations in Scotland. The Accountant in Bankruptcy plays a pivotal role in administering the sequestration process.

Notify creditors

Once the sequestration process begins, it is essential to notify your creditors of the proceedings. This will usually be taken care of by your approved money adviser or Insolvency Practitioner.

This step ensures transparency in the process and allows creditors to participate in the distribution of your assets to satisfy your outstanding debts.

Comply with bankruptcy restrictions

Throughout the sequestration process, you are expected to adhere to various bankruptcy restrictions. These limitations may affect your ability to take on specific roles, such as being a company director or working within particular industries, without court approval, but are designed to make sure you successfully complete the sequestration.

What happens at the end of Sequestration in Scotland?

When your 12-month sequestration period ends, any eligible debts included in the arrangement will be officially forgiven. 

You will receive a Certificate of Sequestration, which you can share with creditors to confirm that you have successfully completed the sequestration process, although it can take a while for this document to be processed.

Can Sequestration last longer than 12 months?

The impact of sequestration can extend beyond the 12-month process. If you have a source of regular income, you may be asked to continue to pay money to creditors from your wages. 

This is known as a Debtor Contribution Order (DCO) (formerly an Income Payment Order), and the regular payments will typically last for a period of 48 months, depending on your individual financial circumstances.

Advantages and disadvantages of Sequestration

There are pros and cons to sequestration that you should weigh up before deciding whether it’s the right solution for your situation. We’ve outlined some key advantages and disadvantages below. 

Advantages of a Sequestration (Scotland)

  • Sequestration offers a legal method for debt relief and financial restructuring in Scotland
  • Assets like your home and car may be protected during sequestration
  • It offers a fresh start by forgiving eligible debts at the end of the 12-month process
  • Any monthly contributions are based on what you can realistically afford
  • Sequestration stops creditor action, providing a respite for people struggling with debt

Disadvantages of a Sequestration (Scotland)

  • Sequestration is a matter of public record, impacting your credit rating for six years
  • Some assets may be sold to repay creditors during the process
  • Your employment opportunities may be restricted during and after sequestration
  • Secured debts, like mortgages, are generally not included in sequestration 
  • Obtaining credit may be challenging, affecting financial flexibility post-sequestration

Who will be aware of my Sequestration?

When you undergo sequestration in Scotland, there are certain people and entities who will be aware of this, which can have an influence on your personal and professional life:

Existing creditors

Your current creditors are notified of your sequestration to engage in the process of distributing available assets to settle outstanding debts. This transparency ensures a structured and equitable resolution for all parties involved.

Credit reference agencies

Sequestration affects your credit history. Information about your sequestration is recorded on your credit file for a period of six years, impacting your credit score. 

Credit reference agencies, whose job it is to monitor your financial activity, will be aware of any active debt solutions on your record, and will adjust your credit score accordingly 

Future lenders

When you apply for credit in the future, potential lenders will review your credit history. The presence of a past sequestration on your credit report may influence their decision to extend credit, and can impact the terms and conditions they offer.

Certain employers

Some employers conduct routine credit checks on their employees, especially for roles that involve financial responsibilities. 

If your employer engages in these kinds of checks, they may become aware of your sequestration. This awareness could potentially affect your employment status or agreements in your employment contract, particularly if your role involves financial trust.

How does Sequestration affect your credit rating?

Sequestration will have a serious impact on your credit, making it harder to secure credit during and after, which is why it should only ever be considered as a last resort for people who have exhausted all other debt relief options. 

Details of your sequestration will be listed on your credit report for a period of six years from when you first entered the arrangement. Future lenders will have full view of this information when considering you for any credit application This will impact the terms they offer, and may make it more difficult to obtain credit in general.

Once you successfully complete the process and six years have past, you will be free of the debts that were included in the arrangement and can begin to rebuild your credit profile by making timely payments and demonstrating responsible financial management.

What happens to assets like my home and car?

Entering sequestration in Scotland involves the potential sale of assets, such as your home and car, which can be sold to raise money and pay creditors. The appointed trustee oversees this process, determining which assets should be sold to maximise returns for creditors. 

While sequestration may include selling your home or car, exemptions exist to protect essential assets that you need for daily living. 

It's crucial to stay updated on any changes in regulations and seek advice from a knowledgeable source in debt management in order to determine whether any of your assets might be suitable for exemption.

Can I borrow money while I'm involved in an active debt solution?

While undergoing sequestration, a process typically lasting a year, obtaining credit is restricted. This restriction serves to maintain financial discipline and uphold the integrity of the bankruptcy arrangement. 

Informing the Accountant in Bankruptcy (AiB) about any changes in your circumstances is crucial. The AiB, who oversee personal bankruptcy processes in Scotland, rely on accurate information to ensure the fair and transparent administration of your sequestration. 

You will be expected to seek permission from the trustee before considering any new credit while your sequestration remains live in order to prevent any potential complications and ensure a smooth resolution to your financial challenges.

Alternatives to Sequestration (Scotland)

Depending on your financial circumstances, there are several alternative solutions that could enable you to address overwhelming debt and regain financial stability in Scotland.

Trust Deed

A Trust Deed is a formal and legally binding agreement between you and your creditors. It’s a fixed-term arrangement, usually lasting four years, during which you make affordable monthly payments. At the end of the term, any remaining included debts may be written off, offering a viable path to debt relief.

Debt Arrangement Scheme (DAS)

The Debt Arrangement Scheme, backed by the Scottish government, provides a structured repayment plan for individuals struggling with multiple debts.

Using a Debt Payment Programme (DPP), you work with a DAS-approved money adviser to create a feasible repayment plan. This plan considers your income, essential living expenses, and the amount you can reasonably afford to pay towards your debts, ensuring a sustainable approach to debt settlement.

Minimal Asset Process (MAP)

Specifically designed for individuals with minimal assets, the Minimal Asset Process provides an accelerated route to bankruptcy resolution.

If you qualify, MAP bankruptcy allows for a quicker discharge from bankruptcy, typically within six months. This option is suitable for those with low income, limited assets, and debts that do not exceed a specified threshold.

Considering these alternatives will help you choose the most fitting debt solution based on your financial situation. It's crucial to seek advice from qualified professionals or debt advisers who can guide you through the specifics of each option and help you make the best decision for your circumstances.

 

Key Takeaways

  • Sequestration, or Scottish bankruptcy, offers formal debt relief for overwhelming debts
  • Sequestration can be initiated voluntarily if debts become unmanageable
  • The application is a structured process that involves working with the Accountant in Bankruptcy (AiB)
  • Sequestration will impact credit and assets like your home and car, so should be seen as a last resort.
  • Always seek professional debt advice before sequestration, and explore all available options
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