My trustees in Bankruptcy have tripled their costs as result of my appeal against HMRC assessment of income tax whereas they informed the Tax Tribunal that they are not representing me in the appeal case but just want to be informed of the outcome and yet they were claiming 3 times their initial costs with no detail break-down. When I asked to assess their costs only to be told by their lawyers that I am not in the position to ask. Can my wife as a bankrupt's partner ask for their costs to be assessed? And what are those questions to be asked?

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Your trustees are not working on your behalf, but on behalf of your creditors. Accordingly, only a creditor can properly demand that the trustees' costs be assessed by the court, and if the creditors all think that the assessment procedure will cost more than it will reduce the bill by, there is no way to get the court involved.

That said, the trustees cannot just charge whatever they wish, and it may be possible, for example, to ask a minor creditor to write to the trustees and ask them to justify the expense of being represented at the tribunal if they do not wish to represent you. They might even remind the trustees that they act on behalf of all creditors, not just Governnment departments.

But I can't in good conscience suggest that you take any steps without professional advice: a pro bono solicitor, a Citizens Advice Bureau, even a friendly accountant who can say whether these costs are unusual in the circumstances. Tax law combined with insolvency make a very complex mix, and if you write a complaint based on a misunderstanding, it is entirely possible that you receive a brush-off for which the trustees will charge the estate (ultimately, you) £100.

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