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Insolvency Law

Expert guidance on all aspects of corporate and personal insolvency

26 MAR 2013

Free Bankruptcy? The debate rumbles on...

I have been engaging in a debtate on twitter (see: @tribebankruptcy) regarding an advert that appears on google for 'Free Bankruptcy'. Here is the transcript of the debate:

This website states: 'Go Bankrupt For Free' () who pays the petition fee? @scratchingheadwhilstdraftingcostsarticle

AD: ...... maybe someone will ask the creditors ?

JT: good point but it seems to indicate that a debtor's petition is free

AD: I had to look. I totally agree @scratchingheadwhilstresearching'FREE' ! ?

JT: and I have been discussing this website (see above) do you have any views on this sort of marketing?

IS: Free bankruptcy advice 'Guide To Bankruptcy' on Insolvency Service websitehttp://ow.ly/jr39X

An annonymous source has subsequently noted:

"You may wish to re-tweet that, buried in the small print and (literally in the long grass) at the bottom of their page are the following statements: “The third party debt advisors we refer you to may charge you a fee if you decide to proceed with a debt solution. You should discuss any further fees or charges directly with them.”"

This is a fair point. However, if the small print is so fine as to potentially give a misleading impression to impecunious debtors should the RPB not step in to correct any misleading impression that such advertising might give?  

Another source has now written in to the blog and noted:

"...The company appears to have has form for misleading advertising - the ASA censured them last year over a different matter: http://www.asa.org.uk/Rulings/Adjudications/2012/4/eSmart-Media-Ltd/SHP_ADJ_166186.aspx

Interestingly the company name and number listed on their 'About Us' page (also in the long grass) do not match up on the Register of Companies, and the address they give is in Switzerland!

...Hopefully something can be done about this, but I fear it's virtually impossible to police this type of advertising unless Google and the other internet advertising companies really vet ads properly before accepting them (which seems highly unlikely, given that their entire business model appears to be 'post it on the web anyway, and we might take it down eventually if someone objects vehemently enough')."


As noted above, it is a good job the Insolvency Service (IS) publish helpful booklets. See here:  www.bis.gov.uk/insolvency/publications

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