Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Select Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality

Personal Insolvency (Amendment) Bill 2014: Committee Stage

2:00 pm

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I advised the Deputy on Second Stage that the departmental review of the insolvency legislation had taken place towards the end of last year. The Department met with all the key stakeholders in terms of the commitment we gave in May to review the legislation. I intend to bring forward proposals to the Government shortly based on that review to ensure the insolvency legislation can work effectively to help people trapped in unsustainable debt so that they can arrive at sustainable solutions. Subject to Government approval, I intend to introduce a number of amendments on Report Stage arising from that review.

I would like to address some substantive issues when I do that. At the discussions today, I would like committee members to be aware that this is the context. I will be going to the Government based on the review and hopefully bringing forward some further amendments for which I would need Government approval.

I appreciate the intention behind Deputy Collins's amendment, which seeks to ensure that information about creditor refusals is publicly available. I am not sure it is necessary and there are some workability issues associated with it as well. The ISI has already announced that from the first quarter of this year, 2015, it will publish on a quarterly basis details of debt settlement and personal insolvency arrangements that have been voted down by creditors. That information is now going to be available on a quarterly basis and that will make it available much more quickly, instead of waiting for an annual publication. I believe this is the right direction to take so that it can be seen clearly what is happening when people are trying to deal with these debt issues.

Debt relief notices would not be included in the proposed amendment, since the Personal Insolvency Act does not provide for a creditor vote for this type of arrangement. If it is a limited write-down of unsecured debt for persons with very little income or assets which is approved directly by the court, a creditor can object to the court but no creditor vote is required because of the specific and limited nature of the debt solution. Perhaps the Deputy would take the points I am making in this regard.

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