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Debt Relief Orders

This page provides information on the background and policy behind Debt Relief Orders (DROs). If you have debts and are interested in obtaining a DRO, please instead go to this page:

Competent Authorities

This link provides information for advisers who wish to act as intermediaries to deal with DRO applications on behalf of clients. To be an intermediary you must apply to a competent authority for approval.


Debt Relief Orders were introduced by the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 and were introduced on 6 April 2009.  Debt Relief Orders were created by section 108 of that act and were detailed in Schedules 17 to 20 of that Act which were inserted into the Insolvency Act 1986.

All the relevant legislation is available from the Office of Public Sector Information. The statutory instruments are listed by year and number, as detailed are below.

Statutory Instrument Title



The Insolvency (Amendment) Rules 2009


Detail of the debt relief order scheme (and amends other insolvency rules)

The Debt Relief Orders (Designation of Competent Authorities) Regulations 2009


The requirements for being a competent authority and for being an intermediary

The Insolvency Proceedings (Fees) (Amendment) Order 2009


Sets the fee

The Insolvency Proceedings (Monetary Limits) (Amendment) Order 2009


Sets the limits on assets, liabilities and surplus income which must be met to be eligible for a DRO

The Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 (Commencement No. 7) Order 2009


Brings the legislation into force.


Details of the scheme were subject to earlier consultation and were developed further with help and input from stakeholders.

In 2004, the Department for Constitutional Affairs produced a paper which sought views on options to help deal with over-indebtedness and in particular, people in multiple debt. It identified proposals for providing better assistance to the ‘can't pay’ and ‘could pay’ groups. 


That consultation reflected a need to provide a form of debt relief for the ‘can’t pay’ group who were unable to access other remedies. Further details were then subject to consultation by The Insolvency Service in 2005.  


Various stakeholders then had input into the further development of the detail, including the Intermediary Working Group. This group was made up of representatives from organisations with an interest in providing debt relief to the financially excluded.