There are two means by which a bankruptcy can be ended - discharge (this occurs when the period of bankruptcy has been served and is the usual means of ending a bankruptcy) or annulment.
Most bankrupts will be discharged automatically three years and one day after the date the statement of affairs is filed provided no objection has been lodged [Bankruptcy Act 1966 (Cth) s 149]. After discharge, the bankrupt continues to be liable for fines or debts incurred by fraud, and for debts under a maintenance order, although the court has the power to release a bankrupt from liability to pay child support arrears [s 153].
Objections may be lodged by the trustee on a number of grounds which will extend the period of bankruptcy to a total of five or eight years [Bankruptcy Act 1966 (Cth) ss 149A-D].
Where the ground for lodging an objection relates to uncooperative conduct by the bankrupt (one of the ‘special grounds’ listed in the Act), the trustee will not have to provide a reason for lodging an objection. Previously, the trustee always had to provide reasons.
A bankruptcy will be extended to five years if the bankrupt failed to:
A bankruptcy will be extended to eight years if the bankrupt:
If all the debts are paid the trustee will annul the bankruptcy. Annulment takes place when the payment, or last payment, is made including interest on interest bearing debts [Bankruptcy Act 1966 (Cth) s 153A].
The court can also annul the bankruptcy if satisfied that a sequestration order ought not to have been made or where a debtor files their own petition (where the petition ought not to have been presented) is accepted by the Official Receiver [s 153B].
Legal advice should be sought from a private lawyer about options for annulment of bankruptcy.