Well done to our local TD Mr. James Browne on passing an Insolvency Bill which will help in many areas of the Insolvency Process.
Delighted my Insolvency Bill was passed this evening and will now go to the President for signing.
Perhaps the most important change made by the Bill relates to insolvent homeowners who are struggling to pay their home mortgage arrears. The Personal Insolvency (Amendment) Act 2015 introduced a key protection for these borrowers. It allowed them a right to seek review by a court, if their mortgage lender, or other creditors, refuse a reasonable proposal for a personal insolvency arrangement.
However, this protection currently only applies to home mortgage arrears dating from before 1 January 2015. So a person at risk of losing their home, whose financial difficulties first arose from the COVID-19 pandemic, would be unable to apply for the court review. The Bill removes the condition that the borrower’s home mortgage arrears must pre-date 1 January 2015, in light of these changed economic circumstances.
The Bill also adjusts the asset ceiling for an insolvent person applying for a Debt Relief Notice – the statutory debt restructure designed for people with debts not exceeding €35,000, and very little income or assets. The ceiling for assets (including savings) is raised from €400 to €1,500. This will remove an obstacle that could otherwise affect recipients of some social welfare payments that are paid as lump sums, such as Fuel Allowance or Carer’s Support Grant.
The Bill makes a number of other practical changes to ensure that personal insolvency processes work better for those affected by the pandemic:
allowing a key advisory meeting between the insolvent person and their financial adviser to take place via remote communications technology, rather than face to face;
allowing a short extra extension of some key procedural deadlines; and
allowing the insolvent person to make a written Confirmation of Truth, which does not have to be formally sworn or witnessed, as an alternative to a statutory declaration (while retaining strict penalties for making any such statement that the person does not believe to be true.)