Tuesday, 14 February 2012
Department of Justice, Equality and Defence
Ciarán Lynch (Cork South Central, Labour)
Question 523: To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality the way personal insolvency trustees, required for the proposed debt settlement arrangements, are to be selected and appointed; the standard of qualification and experience that will be required of them; the way they will they be remunerated and on what scale; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8170/12]
Alan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)
The Personal Insolvency Bill, the Heads of which I published on 25 January 2012, introduces a number of new non-judicial debt settlement systems. Two of the proposed arrangements - Debt Settlement Arrangement and the Personal Insolvency Arrangement - require the involvement of a Personal Insolvency Trustee.
The intention is that the Personal Insolvency Trustee will act as an intermediary between the debtor and his or her creditors. The General Scheme of Bill sets out in some detail the duties of the Trustee from initial assessment of the debtor’s suitability for a particular arrangement, to negotiation of the arrangement and through to its completion. The role of the Trustee is critical to the proper functioning of the debt settlement arrangements as it is vital that debtors be properly and independently advised as to the implications of all options available to them prior to arriving at a decision. The average debtor is at a disadvantage vis a vis credit institutions and creditors in terms of experience, advice and expertise. Once a debt settlement is agreed and registered, effectively the personal insolvency becomes the custodian of the arrangement.
The Trustee will be selected by the debtor and, similar to debt settlement schemes which operate in other jurisdictions, it is intended that the fees involved in the arrangement will be borne by the creditors on the assumption that this will facilitate the maximum debt recovery.
The Deputy will appreciate that a number of matters still require to be finalised in relation to the proposed legislation such as the detailed arrangements for licensing and regulation of personal insolvency trustees and parameters in regard to appropriate costs and remuneration. As these are essentially financial services, it is my intention to consult with the Department of Finance and the Central Bank to see how these issues might best be addressed within the context of regulation of financial advisory services generally.