The ISI welcomes the Personal insolvency (Amendment) (No. 1) Bill 2020. The new legislation will make a small number of important changes to the law on personal insolvency to deal with the effects of Covid-19. The ISI expects that other important changes to the personal insolvency legislation will follow soon in a second Bill.
This Bill will make it easier for a debtor to qualify for a Debt Relief Notice, provide for virtual meetings between debtors and insolvency advisors, and make it possible for people who have gone into mortgage arrears because of Covid-19 to seek a court review of their proposed arrangement if creditors vote against it.
Currently, where a debtor seeks help and obtains a protective certificate, creditors cannot contact them or pursue debts for 70 days. The Bill provides for a court to extend that 70-day period by a further 40 days in exceptional circumstances.
The Bill also makes it easier for a debtor to qualify for a Debt Relief Notice, under which people with few assets and little spare income can have debts up to €35,000 written-off. It will also enable a Personal Insolvency Practitioner to delegate more tasks to a member of their staff or a colleague including, for example, chairing a meeting of creditors.
Commenting on the Bill, Michael McNaughton, Director of the ISI said; “These are important and very welcome changes to our existing personal insolvency legislation in the context of the Covid-19 outbreak. We look forward to working with the Minister and her Department to supplement these changes with the further reforms contemplated in our submissions made under section 141 of the Personal Insolvency Act 2012. Prior to the Covid-19 outbreak there were many people who were struggling with unsustainable debts and the economic impact of Covid-19 has only exacerbated these issues and created new debt problems for others. I want to reassure all of these people that help is available and I encourage anyone requiring assistance to visit www.backontrack.ie for more information.”
The ISI encourages anyone with serious debt issues to consult a Personal Insolvency Practitioner or an Approved Intermediary, details of which are available on www.backontrack.ie. People can also freetext GETHELP to 50015 for a call back from the ISI.