LIVERPOOL has emerged as the most favoured destination for Irish business people seeking to declare bankruptcy in the UK, according to a Leicester-based firm that specialises in steering Irish clients through the process in Britain.
Irish Bankruptcy UK, headed by solicitor Steve Thatcher, said that a third of its 30-plus Irish bankruptcy clients had chosen Liverpool in which to set up their centre of main interest (COMI) -- a necessary step before a UK bankruptcy can be processed.
Mr Thatcher predicted there would be a surge in its Irish business this year, and estimated it would process between 150 and 200 Irish/UK bankruptcies before September.
"Most of these people have been sitting tight in light of promised changes in Irish bankruptcy law, but now with money running out and nothing happening, they're starting to give up and head to the UK," said Mr Thatcher, whose firm also has offices in Ireland.
Under UK law, individuals are discharged from bankruptcy after 12 months as opposed to 12 years in Ireland.
"The main consideration in choosing Liverpool is its low-cost credentials," he said. "You'll spend much less there on rent and on groceries than in other big cities. It's got a big Irish community and many have relations there. It's also considered proximate to Dublin.
"Most of our clients are not heavy hitters and bankruptcy is an absolute last resort. They've spent their savings and most are leaving their families behind for six months.
"They'll usually end up in low-rent accommodation and working in a menial job. It's not a pleasant experience for them but they judge it to be better than the alternative of declaring in Ireland."
Establishing COMI credentials means getting a bank account and a national insurance number, registering with a doctor and, if they can, getting gainful employment.
London is the second most favoured location. "Around 30pc of our clients go to London, which offers the best chance of getting a reasonably good job," said Mr Thatcher.