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If you as individual cannot pay the money you owe on time, you may be declared personally bankrupt. Then everything of value that you own will be sold and the money distributed among those who are owed money (the creditors).

The bankruptcy court may commence bankruptcy proceedings against an individual if he/she is insolvent (i.e. the person cannot meet his/her obligations as agreed), and a creditor who is owed money has filed a bankruptcy petition with the bankruptcy court. An individual may also file a bankruptcy petition him-/herself.

The courts do not commence bankruptcy proceedings on their own accord, and bankruptcy cases can be heard only if the person concerned is unable to pay. If there are other reasons why the person does not pay, the case may be heard by the bailiff’s court as a debt collection case or – if there is disagreement about the debt – in a civil lawsuit or by judicial mediation.

After a personal bankruptcy, the bankrupt person is not debt-free, but many people apply for debt rescheduling after they have been declared bankrupt.

Who can deal with money and assets?

When the bankruptcy court has made a bankruptcy order, the bankrupt individual loses the right to deal with his/her own money and assets. The bankruptcy court appoints an impartial trustee, whose duty it is to measure and evaluate the total debts. Moreover, the trustee must collect and sell the assets owned by the individual. The money received by the trustee is distributed among the creditors.

Which assets are included in the bankruptcy proceedings?

The trustee will include in the bankruptcy proceedings all assets and possessions not needed to have a modest home and live a modest life.

In rare cases, rented premises occupied by the debtor can also be included in the bankruptcy proceedings.

Are you debt-free after a bankruptcy?

You are not debt-free after a bankruptcy, but the assets that were sold in connection with the bankruptcy have contributed to reducing your debts.

A number of people choose to apply for debt rescheduling after a bankruptcy, and if your debts essentially come from commercial activities, more lenient rules apply.

Read about debt rescheduling (in Danish)

How do you file a bankruptcy petition?

A bankruptcy petition must be in writing.

You can fill in a form, which you must send to the bankruptcy court in the judicial district in which the debtor lives – if the debtor carries out business activities, the address of his/her firm determines the judicial district.

In Greater Copenhagen (Copenhagen, Frederiksberg, Glostrup and Lyngby judicial districts), the Maritime and Commercial Court of Copenhagen hears bankruptcy cases – everywhere else, the bankruptcy divisions of the district courts perform this task.

There are two different bankruptcy petition forms in relation to individuals – one if another person owes you money and one if you apply for your own bankruptcy.

Find a court via address search (in Danish)

Petition form to apply for your own bankruptcy (in Danish)

Petition form to apply for another person’s bankruptcy (in Danish)

Do all creditors have equal priority?

No, all creditors do not have equal priority. In bankruptcy proceedings, there is an order of priority according to which the creditors are paid – the so-called order of priority of creditors. The individual classes of creditors do not rank equally, but all creditors within a class rank equally among themselves.

First, all costs connected with the occurrence of the bankruptcy event and the bankruptcy proceedings are paid – i.e. trustee, court fees, etc.

Secondly, other bills in connection with the proceedings are paid – e.g. for lawyers’ restructuring attempts.

Thirdly, expenditure on wages and salaries and holiday pay is paid. However, employees are covered by the Employees’ Guarantee Fund, which will pay wages and salaries and prove claims against the bankrupt estate. Consequently, employees do not have to wait for the actual bankruptcy proceedings.

Fourthly, outstanding taxes to the state are paid, which taxes suppliers are otherwise required to pay (e.g. excise duties on sugar, alcohol, etc.).

Finally, the last class of creditors covers unpaid bills and other ordinary receivables not paid according to the rules above.

If there is still money left when all the preceding classes in the bankrupt estate have been paid, interest accrued on the claims during the bankruptcy proceedings are paid first and then fines and any promises of gifts.

Within each class, the individual creditors will receive the same percentage share of the amount owing to them. This is also called dividend.

Only when all creditors in a class have received 100 per cent of the amount owing to them is dividend paid to the creditors in the next class.

Debt legally secured by charge will still be charged as agreed.

Read about the order of priority of creditors in Chapter 10 of the Danish Bankruptcy Act (in Danish)

What does a bankruptcy petition mean?

When a bankruptcy order is made, the debtor loses the right to deal freely with the money and assets he/she had when the bankruptcy court made the bankruptcy order.

Who can present a bankruptcy petition?

To present a bankruptcy petition, you must be owed money that is not paid as agreed. The person against whom the bankruptcy petition is presented must also be insolvent – i.e. he/she is unable to pay his/her bills as agreed and as they fall due.

If the debtor is able to pay but does not want to, collection proceedings may instead be commenced in the bailiff’s court. If there is a disagreement about the debt being owed, a civil lawsuit may be commenced or an attempt of judicial mediation made.

An insolvent individual can also apply for his/her own bankruptcy.

Read about debt collection by the bailiff's court (in Danish)

Read about commencing civil proceedings (in Danish)

Read about dispute resolution with judicial mediation (in Danish)

Where are bankruptcy proceedings conducted?

The bankruptcy division of the district court with jurisdiction over the place where the bankrupt person resides conducts bankruptcy proceedings – in Greater Copenhagen (Copenhagen, Frederiksberg, Glostrup and Lyngby judicial districts), however, the Maritime and Commercial Court of Copenhagen conducts bankruptcy proceedings. If the debtor carries out business activities, the address of his/her firm determines the judicial district.

Find a court via address search (in Danish)

What does it cost to file a bankruptcy petition?

From 1 October 2021, a court fee of DKK 1,500 is payable for filing a bankruptcy petition. A petition for the bankruptcy of your own firm is fee exempt.

How long does the bankruptcy process take?

It is impossible to say how long a bankruptcy process takes, because it very much depends on the individual circumstances.

The trustee can relatively easily get an overview of the bankrupt estate in a case with few creditors and few assets that are easy to sell, and then the process will be quick. If there are many creditors and assets that are difficult to measure and sell, it will take longer.

How is the trustee in bankruptcy proceedings appointed?

The bankruptcy court appoints the trustee after having consulted the attending creditors.

The trustee must not be unfit in relation to the insolvent individual.

If one or more creditors so request within three weeks of the bankruptcy order, a so-called meeting of creditors must be held, at which meeting the creditors vote for the appointment of a trustee.

The bankruptcy court may also appoint one additional trustee.

How does a creditor prove a claim against a bankrupt estate?

Creditors having claims against a bankrupt debtor must send a letter with a statement of the claim to the trustee (prove their claims). Claims must be proven within four weeks of the publication of the bankruptcy order in the Danish Official Gazette. The trustee prepares a list of proven claims. This is also called a register of debts and claims.

The trustee examines the proven claims, usually during a meeting at the trustee’s office. The date and time is announced in the Danish Official Gazette. Two weeks before the meeting, the register of debts and claims with the proven claims and the trustee’s recommendation of the claims can be inspected at the trustee’s office and in the bankruptcy court. If the trustee disagrees with a creditor about, for example, the amount of a creditor's claim, the creditor will receive notice to this effect before the meeting.

If the creditor and the trustee cannot agree on the claim, the creditor can bring a lawsuit against the estate. The lawsuit is heard by the bankruptcy court. A writ of summons must be submitted to the bankruptcy court within four weeks of the meeting at which the trustee examined the claim. The creditor must pay a court fee according to the provisions of the Danish Act on Court Fees in Civil Cases.

If the creditor does not bring an action before the time limit fixed, the trustee’s recommendation stands and is final.

Search in the Danish Official Gazette (in Danish)

What rights and duties does the debtor have?

A debtor has certain duties and rights during the administration of the estate.

The debtor must give the bankruptcy court and the trustee access to all the information necessary for the administration of the estate.

The debtor may not leave Denmark, unless the bankruptcy court gives its permission.

The debtor must inform the bankruptcy court before changing address or permanent place of residence.

The debtor is entitled to participate in all meetings of creditors.
Interruption of postal services means that letters and shipments to the debtor are redirected to the trustee. This will happen when the bankruptcy court assesses that it is of importance to the administration of the estate. Interruption of postal services is an ordinary part of the administration of the estate.

The bankruptcy court’s decision on interruption of postal services is made at a court hearing. Personal debtors must be summoned to the court hearing and given the opportunity to make representations before a decision on interruption of postal services is made. An interruption of postal services applies for three months, but the period may be extended. The interruption of postal services must be lifted when it is no longer necessary.

The trustee may open and read all letters received via the interruption of postal services, unless it is perfectly obvious that they do not relate to the bankrupt estate. The trustee must inform the debtor about the time and place of the opening of letters. The debtor is entitled to be present when letters and shipments are opened. The trustee must as soon as possible hand over or send letters not relating to the estate to the debtor.

The court may assign counsel to a personal debtor if deemed necessary. The court may assign counsel both in connection with the hearing of a bankruptcy petition and later during the administration of the estate.

Sidst opdateret: 21. januar 2022