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Insolvency and related law and policy, and more

Michael Murray is an Australian author and commentator on corporate and personal insolvency law and related issues, in Australia and internationally. He has a strong law and policy background, is independent of any connections, and his views are his own. He gives no legal advice. 

A bankrupt and ‘one rooster, one peacock, three ducks, and 22 chickens …’

A person’s bankruptcy can arise from a host of circumstances, disputes with neighbours and non-compliance with local council requirements being a significant one.

The 2012 bankruptcy of Maria Fokas arose from her allegedly and unlawfully keeping on her Kogarah property ‘one rooster, one peacock, three ducks, and 22 chickens when no more than 5 chickens could be kept, and roosters were not permitted’.

In earlier proceedings, one judge had allowed her to bring her rooster into Court, but ultimately, the rooster was ordered removed from her home.

She lost throughout the court proceedings, and was ordered to pay the council’s costs, and her inability to pay them led to her bankruptcy. Her application to challenge the bankruptcy, including on constitutional grounds, was summarily dismissed. She remains an undischarged bankrupt.

The Judge noted that Mrs Fokas has been declared a vexatious litigant by other courts, and the potential for the Federal Court to so declare was raised. Fokas v Mansfield as Trustee of the Bankrupt Estate of Maria Fokas [2019] FCA 1724

It would be a matter for her bankruptcy trustee to determine whether the animals were assets in her bankruptcy, or were used by her for earning an income, or were personal items.

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