debt voiding if out of country?

asking for a friend...(of course)

my mate has been living abroad for about 2 years.....but owes quite a bit of money back here in the UK....the debt collectors are now starting to get on his tail.....phoning up his family and pretending to be from the tax office, and other such imaginary reasons to track him down.

Fair enough, hes the one that has got into debt and jumped ship, but hes an ex regular who feel into the all to common finance trap when returning to civvie street.

I hear theres a length of time you can spend outside of the UK, then your debt is voided, is this true? if so how long is it?

cheers.....awaiting the baiting, i promise this is not me, just a very concerned mate.

Cheers Paddy
Hi Paddy

I shall look into this and get back to you. I have a feeling it may not be that simple if it is a private debt. Only certain tax issues can be dodged by spending a set amount of time outside the UK and even then it can catch up with you if you don't play it by the book. I read the other day that Peter Andre was doing a record signing in HMV a few weeks back and two chaps from the Inland Revenue queued up to present him with a £118,000 tax bill from the 1990s. Having said that, he owes this country a much greater debt for making us suffer 'Mysterious Girl' not once but twice.

Anyway, I digress. I will return with the answer shortly.

The position on this is that whether you are inside the UK or not, there is a statute of limitations after which debts can no longer be pursued. The bad news for your friend is that the time period is six years.

Even if he could make it through the next four years without having to pay up, there are other key considerations. No payments at all can have made on the debt by him or anyone on his behalf during the six year period. He must not have been in touch with the creditors to admit the debt (this would include anything like explaining non-payment or trying to negotiate instalments). If payments have been made or the debt admitted then the six year period starts from the date of the payment or contact. This could be relevant to him if the debt collectors have dealt with his family and they have tried to help.

The other thing which would prevent the debt from being time barred would be if the debt collectors or original creditors have already obtained a judgment against him. If he is not sure whether this has happened then he can talk to National Debtline (free phone 0808 808 4000). I have attached links to their guidance on the limitations and also on what he can do if the debt collectors are harassing him or his family. I suspect it would be useful for him to talk to Debtline anyway but do let him know that their phone lines are really busy and he should not give up if he cant get through the first few times he tries. They will be able to help him find a solution and wont judge him.

It's worth bearing in mind that the longer he tries to dodge the debt, the harder it will be for him to have any kind of normal financial life. The damage to his credit record will make it really hard, if not impossible, for him to get credit in the future and this is another reason why National Debtline can be helpful - they will advise him on how to recover his position as much as possible so that he can avoid depending on loan sharks.

Limitations information:
Harassment information:

Wish him good luck! Let me know if you/he has further questions.


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