By Claire West

The Insolvency Practitioners Association held its third annual personal insolvency conference in Manchester last week at the Etihad Stadium.

The conference entitled Champions in Personal Insolvency reflected the leading roles played by both the IPA and its members in this sector, and attracted over 130 delegates, a record for the event — the only conference of its type run by one of the insolvency regulators.

As the deadline looms for a ministerial decision on a debt management protocol, the Insolvency Service speaker Tom Phillips outlined the progress made so far and confirmed that it is hoped to make an announcement shortly.

He also confirmed that the Service intends to move towards options for separate personal and corporate insolvency licences, and will give up its direct authorisation of licence holders to concentrate on its oversight functions.

Reference was also made to statistics released on the day of the conference regarding IVAs, and the latest quarterly figures confirming that Debt Relief Orders (DROs) have now eclipsed bankruptcies as debtors’ insolvency solution of choice.

Edward Bible of Brethertons, in his update for practitioners as President of the IPA, announced that it had just authorised its first intermediaries under the DRO provisions. The IPA is the only one of the insolvency bodies recognised for this purpose.
Sessions dealing with vulnerable debtors highlighted the need for sensitivity in this area, and conference chair Jo Wright of Begbies Traynor reminded delegates of the requirement to focus on the debtor as an individual at the centre of these personal insolvency cases.
The day’s panel session was devoted to payment protection insurance (PPI) and its impact on personal insolvency and in particular IVAs. The IPA is shortly to issue guidance, in collaboration with other bodies, on how members acting as IVA supervisors should deal with PPI claims in their cases.
Summing up the day, Jo Wright said “We covered a range of topics directly relevant to practitioners specialising in personal insolvency work, and it was great to see so many here throughout the whole day. As well as IVAs, we looked at litigation in bankruptcy, and covered policy topics such as money advice and changes in the Scottish system. In short, something for every personal insolvency practitioner, and it demonstrated the need for a specialist event dedicated to these issues.”
IPA Vice-President and Chairman of the IPA’s personal insolvency committee, Charles Turner confirmed “We’ll be back in Manchester next year. This has now become a fixture in the calendar, and this sector is an important part of the insolvency community, fully deserving of the attention and resource the IPA devotes to it. The IPA regulates around half of all current IVAs, and our commitment to this aspect of our members’ work will be a strong feature of our engagement with the insolvency profession throughout the coming year.”