Personal Insolvency Bill

The recently announced Personal Insolvency Bill (P.I.B) is expected to be enacted in law by the end of this year.  The Bill provides for 3 methods of dealing with debt, for those who are seriously in arrears.  The operation of all 3 Schemes will be overseen by a new state body, i.e. The Insolvency Service.

Outlined below are details on how each scheme will operate: 

Debt Relief Notice (DRN) 

Suitable for Unsecured Debt under €20,000. 

Features of Scheme:             

  • To qualify under this scheme the debtor must have total assets under €400 and a disposable weekly income of less then €60.  In addition the value of any vehicle they own cannot be more than €1,200. 
  • Applicants must not have incurred more than 25% of their debt within the previous 6 months. 
  • Applicants must show that they are not in a position to meet their debts and reside (or have been resident within the last 12 months) inIreland.  

Certification Process:

  • Applicants must appoint a Debt Advisor, which is likely to be MABS. 
  • They must complete a detailed financial statement of their circumstances. 
  • The Advisor will then apply to The Insolvency Service for certification of their application.
  • If approved, The Insolvency Service will issue a certificate and apply to the courts for a Debt Relief Notice (DRN).

 Action Plan:

  • The DRN will state the individual’s creditors, who are then precluded from taking any action against them for a period of up to 36 months. 
  • At the end of this period, if the individual can show that their financial circumstances have not improved, then they will be free from all debts specified in the DRN. 
  • During the 36 month period, if the debtor receives a gift or payment for more than €500 then 50% of this must be shared with their creditors.
  •  Only one DRN can be applied for in a lifetime and if a debtor applies for credit of more than €650 during this period, they must make it known on any application.  

Debt Settlement Agreement (DSA)

Suitable for Unsecure Debt in excess of €20,000.

Features of Scheme:             

  • This Scheme is suitable for applicants who have some net income and assets, but are insolvent, and as a result cannot meet their commitments. 
  • The DSA allows individuals to repay some debt over a 5 year period, including mortgage debt. 
  • Applicants must show that they have been resident inIrelandwithin the last 12 months.

 Certification Process:

  • Applicants must appoint a Personal Insolvency Practitioner (PIP) who will advise and manage the process.  The PIP applies to the Insolvency Service for certification on behalf of the applicant. 
  • Once the Insolvency Service issues a certificate, application is made to the courts for a Protective Certificate, which provides for a 70 day standstill period from creditors. 
  • The PIP then arranges a creditors meeting and presents the Debt Settlement Agreement (DSA) for approval.  For the DSA to proceed, a minimum of 65% of creditors must agree to it. 
  • The person acting as a PIP will have an ongoing responsibility to manage the DSA and their fees will have to be agreed between the applicant and the lenders concerned.

Action Plan:

  • The DSA will provide a range of schemes which will propose a repayment schedule over a period of 5 years, depending on the applicant’s circumstances. 
  • It is likely each agreement will be different depending on the applicant’s circumstances and may also involve the sale of some personal assets. 
  • The agreement is legally binding and as a result creditors cannot take any legal action until the 5 year period is complete. 
  • The PIP will conduct an annual review of the debtor’s finances and may alter the agreement based on changes to the applicant’s financial circumstances. 
  • At the end of the period of 5 years the balance of their debt is written off.
  • Only one DSA may be applied for per lifetime. 

Personal Insolvency Arrangement (PIA)

Suitable for Secured and Unsecured debt up to €3million.

Features of Scheme:             

  • This Scheme applies to all secured and unsecured debt up to €3million spread across a number of creditors.  
  • Applicants are expected to have reasonable sums available to repay some of their debt.
  • Prior to making any application, an individual must have already gone through the existing Mortgage Arrears Resolution Process (MARP) with their bank. 

Certification Process:

  • Applicants must appoint a Personal Insolvency Practitioner (PIP) who will advise and manage the process.  The PIP applies to the Insolvency Service for certification for the applicant. 
  • Once the Insolvency Service issues a certificate, application is made to the courts for a Protective Certificate, which provides for a 70 day standstill period with creditors. 
  • The PIP then arranges a creditors meeting and presents the Personal Insolvency Arrangement (PIA) for approval.  For the PIA to proceed, a minimum of 65% of creditors must agree to it. 
  • The person acting as a PIP will have an ongoing responsibility to manage the PIA and  their fees will have to be agreed between the applicant and the lenders concerned.

Action Plan:

  • The Personal Insolvency Arrangement (PIA) may involve a number of different arrangements with the applicant’s lenders, such as split mortgages, etc.   
  • Creditors can appeal or object to a PIA by lodging a notice with the courts. 
  • The arrangement is recorded in an Insolvency Register which is available for public inspection. 
  • An objective of this arrangement is to try to ensure that applicants do not have to forfeit their homes but in some cases this may form part of a PIA if their borrowings are excessive. 
  • At the end of the 6 year period that the PIA has been in place, the applicant is then discharged from the balance of their debts. 

Note:  Aside from these 3 new Schemes, the Bill provides for a dramatic overhaul of Irish Bankruptcy Law.  A declared bankrupt will now be discharged from their debts after a 3 year period rather than 12 years previously.