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Insolvency lawyers can expect their workload to surge over the coming year as bankruptcies and winding-up petitions continue to grow.
According to the Lord Chancellor's Department, figures for the first quarter of 1999 show a 5 per cent increase in winding-up petitions compared to the same quarter last year.
The statistics also reveal that petitions from debtors have increased by 21 per cent compared to 1998, while petitions from creditors were up 14 per cent.
John Verrill, president of the Insolvency Lawyers Association, says the increase in bankruptcies is the start of a trend and insolvency lawyers should see an increase in work leading up to the millennium.
Verrill says: "What we are expecting is a temporary blip. People feel that supplies will be short so they may wish to buy in more than they normally do, and this leads to too much debt. We have seen the first indications of this trend in the figures for this year."
Christopher Grierson, insolvency partner at Lovell White Durrant, says: "Much of the work we are dealing with now has been carried over from last year. If the ILA is right, most of the bankruptcies they are talking about will still be in the hands of the accountants. Lawyers won't notice the change yet."
But he conceded that he had seen a slight increase in the area.
Mark Andrews, senior partner at Wilde Sapte, says: "Bankruptcies are up because we are coming out of a recession. When an economy is buoyant, creditors are not scared of treating casualties as such."