What can we “De-deuce” from Boris Becker’s Bankruptcy Discharge – Nearly 7 Years Later

July 9, 2024

By Kate Heaney

With Wimbledon 2024 well underway, our insolvency team analyses the recent news surrounding one of the world’s most famous tennis players, Boris Becker, the youngest singles male player to win Wimbledon at the age of 17 in 1985.

Becker also went on to win further championship titles all over the world and took to commentating at Wimbledon following his retirement in 1999.In recent years, however, the spotlight has been on his finances rather than his racket skills.

Bankruptcy

Becker was made bankrupt in June 2017, with his debts approaching nearly £50 million.

In most cases, a bankrupt individual is automatically discharged from bankruptcy 12 months after the Bankruptcy Order. Once discharged, the bankrupt individual can start to rebuild their life while their pre-bankruptcy assets remain in the hands of their trustee in bankruptcy. Unfortunately for Becker, however, his right to discharge was suspended indefinitely by court order in 2018 following his failure to comply with his legal obligations to his trustees in bankruptcy.

Prison sentence

In addition to this, in 2022, Becker was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for concealing and removing property and debt and failing to disclose assets worth £2.5 million. After serving 10 months in prison, Becker was deported to Germany and is reportedly unable to return back to the UK until June 2025…just in time for Wimbledon!

However, late last year, Becker entered into a settlement agreement with his trustees in respect of his bankruptcy estate and it was this that led to his application for discharge nearly 7 years after the bankruptcy order.

Discharge in 2024

Nearly 7 years on from the initial bankruptcy order, Becker applied to discharge it earlier this year, despite still owing more than £40 million. Chief ICC Judge Briggs agreed with Becker’s lawyers that he had done everything he reasonably could to fulfil his obligations to the trustees, and emphasised that the legislation did not impose an express requirement that discharge be conditional on full compliance. He added that “Mr Becker had signed a statement of truth, engaged solicitors to ensure compliance with his obligations and entered a settlement agreement that benefits the joint trustees”.

What does this mean?

Becker’s case is a warning to bankrupts who think they can hide assets and information from their trustees, and a stark reminder of the powers that those office holders have when the bankrupts do not co-operate and fail to comply with their obligations, which can ultimately lead to the bankruptcy continuing indefinitely until co-operation has been obtained.

At Darwin Gray, we work closely with insolvency practitioners, businesses, directors, creditors and individuals. Our insolvency specialists Kate Heaney and Mark Rostron provide legal advice on complex cases, manage emergency planning and make sure clients follow the correct procedures to bring matters to a close.

In many insolvency matters, it is important to act quickly. To discuss our insolvency services, contact one of our insolvency solicitors today, call us on 02920 829 100 or by using our contact form.

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