Rhea’s story

When Rhea was wrongly made bankrupt, she needed legal help.

Rhea* was a migrant woman who came to the Self Representation Service after she was made bankrupt. Rhea explained that she had been made bankrupt while being overseas. However, before she left, Rhea had contacted the solicitor who agreed to request an adjournment so she could attend her hearing. Unfortunately, the solicitor wrote her name down incorrectly and asked for an adjournment in a matter involving a different person. When Rhea got back to Australia she was shocked to discover that she had been made bankrupt.

Rhea again contacted the solicitor for the other side, who now told her that he could help her get the bankruptcy withdrawn if she paid off the debt. Rhea quickly paid off the debt, but then ran out of time to lodge her appeal. Dealing with the bankruptcy was particularly difficult because English was not Rhea’s first language. On top of this, Rhea was also battling ongoing depression, making it hard for her to prepare and lodge all the necessary court documents. Rhea had been subjected to the bankruptcy through the error of another and did not have the capacity to make it right by herself. The Service recognised the unjust and overwhelming situation she was in.

“It was a really good service and I had really great help from the solicitors … I couldn’t express my appreciation enough.”

Rhea had multiple appointments with the Service to get advice about how to start applying for a review of her bankruptcy. The Service was then able to organise for a firm to take on her matter on a pro bono basis. The pro bono lawyer was able to get around the time limitation issues and successfully argue that Rhea’s bankruptcy should be set aside, without trustee costs being applied.

Rhea was particularly relieved because the bankruptcy could jeopardise her ability to travel to see her family overseas. Rhea left the Service having paid off her debt and with her court proceedings fully resolved.