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Apply to have a statutory demand cancelled

This advice applies to England

You can apply to the court to have a statutory demand set aside, as long as you do it within 18 days of the demand being served.

The court might also consider an application outside this time limit, as long as the creditor hasn't already asked for a bankruptcy petition to be issued. You can apply to have it set aside for any of the following reasons:

  • you have a genuine dispute with your creditor about the debt - for example, if your debt is for goods you didn't get
  • you think the creditor owes you at least as much money as you owe them, called a counterclaim
  • the statutory demand hasn't been issued correctly
  • you owe less than £5,000
  • you have a legal defence to court action being taken against you, such as the creditor being out of time for taking court action - you may need to get advice to see if you've got a legal defence

You can also apply to have the demand set aside if your debt is secured against your belongings or home. If your debt is secured, your creditor can take the thing it’s secured against to pay back what you owe. To get the demand set aside, the thing your debt is secured against must be worth as much as you owe.

Talk to an adviser if you’re not sure if you can apply to get a demand set aside.

Coronavirus – if you need a hearing urgently

At the moment, the court might take a long time to arrange a hearing.

Tell the court if you need the hearing urgently – you can tell them before or after you apply for the hearing. Email the court at rolls.icl.hearings1@justice.gov.uk – in your email, make sure you tell them:

  • what you need the hearing for
  • why the hearing’s urgent
  • who needs to be at the hearing
  • how long the hearing’s likely to take
  • how long the judge is likely to need to read through the documents before the hearing

If you don’t know all of this information, tell the court in your email.

The hearing will normally be by video call using Skype for Business. If you can’t use Skype for Business, tell the court if you can use other video call software or if you want your hearing to be over the phone.

You’ll still have to apply for the hearing when the court replies to your email.

How to apply to have a statutory demand set aside

To apply to have a statutory demand set aside, you should follow this process within 18 days of the demand being served on you.

Find the right court

You should apply to the court for your insolvency district. Usually this is the court named on your statutory demand. You can check by:

  1. Visiting the court and tribunal finder on GOV.UK
  2. Selecting ‘The Area of Law I am interested in’
  3. Selecting ‘bankruptcy’
  4. Entering your postcode - if you’ve moved recently, enter the postcode of where you’ve spent the most time in the past 6 months

Complete the application forms

You need to download and fill in court form IAA.

When you hand in the application, your creditor can't try to make you bankrupt while your application to have the statutory demand cancelled is being considered.

If it’s been more than 18 days since you got the demand

You can still apply to get the demand set aside, as long as your creditor hasn’t applied for bankruptcy yet.

When you fill in the application form, you’ll need to add extra information in the ‘witness statement’. This is the part of the form where you explain why you think the demand should be set aside.

In the witness statement, you should explain:

  • why you’re applying more than 18 days after you got the demand

  • that your creditor hasn’t applied for bankruptcy yet

Attend the hearing

A date will be set for the hearing, which you must attend. If you don't go to the hearing the court will dismiss your application to have the statutory demand set aside.

If the application is dismissed, your creditor can immediately apply to make you bankrupt. You can ask the court to delay this if you need more time to pay the debt or get advice. The court usually won't agree unless you can show you have a plan to pay the debt quickly. For example, if you're selling property to raise money to pay the debt, you'll need to show you have a buyer and tell them when it's expected to sell.

You may have to pay court costs if your application is dismissed.

If your application is successful, the statutory demand will be cancelled, or set aside. However, depending on the reason why it was set aside, you may need to continue negotiating with your creditor about the debt, or they could try again to make you bankrupt at a later date.

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