Cheryl Jones has sub-postmaster's bankruptcy annulled

25th April 2024

Cheryl Jones

3PB insolvency, commercial and property barrister Cheryl JonesCheryl JonesCall: 1996 saw her client, the former postmaster Kavil Singh Rao, have his bankruptcy annulled on the grounds that the order should never have been made.

Due to Horizon errors, the Post Office made Mr Rao bankrupt on 20 December 2012. The court has taken over eleven lost and agonising years to correct this injustice, and it should not be forgotten that Mr Rao will continue to suffer with the residual mental consequences of that injustice.

The Post Office had accepted that this was a Horizon bankruptcy and did not resist it, although in other cases, according to Cheryl Jones, "the Post Office appears to be taking a rather more legalistic view of the mechanisms for annulling bankruptcy than it did of Horizon's mechanisms and it remains to be seen if they will end further needless distress for others in the same position."

Cheryl's statement, on behalf of Mr Rao, said: "Despite the Post Office concession, there remained a real danger that this bankruptcy would not have been annulled because, due to the unjustified removal of his livelihood, Mr Rao had incurred further debts. Worryingly, if those creditors had not confirmed that they had no wish to pursue their debts against Mr Rao in the circumstances, the court may have had difficulties in annulling his bankruptcy because bankruptcy is a class action for the benefit of all creditors."

Without the cooperation of the other creditors, for which he thanks them, Mr Rao’s compensation would have had to be used to pay old debts, interest, and statutory fees amounting to 15% of the money received, an outcome many would no doubt find hard to justify.

Cheryl said on the case: "I am happy to have played a tiny part in helping Mr Rao, together with Neil Hudgell from law firm Hudgells and Simon Hateley of accountants Milsted Langdon, but we are all very aware that others are still struggling with the burden and stigma of unjustified bankruptcy. The destruction of lives due to criminal convictions is well documented, the effects of bankruptcy rather less so."

Mr Rao is "grateful to those who helped him achieve this resolution", but does not wish to have any further personal publicity.