Thursday, 30 July 2020
Civil Law and Criminal Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2020: Second Stage
I too wish the Minister well in her new post. She is very fit. I saw her running to the Chamber yesterday evening and it was no bother to her at all. I will, however, be opposing and voting against this Bill because I am very worried about parts of it.
This new Bill is dressed up to look as if it only deals with issues to help us deal with Covid-19. Centuries of legislation will, however, be abolished to appease vulture funds who want to evict Irish families or to take farms from farmers or property from commercial property owners. Chapter 3 relates to very important issues recently discussed in the Court of Appeal. In the judgment on Promontoria (Aran) Ltd v.Burns, a case which regarded the admissibility of hearsay, all other relevant authorities were considered and those taking cases against the vultures and receivers were given a very easy route to court and a more than credible defence against them with regard to how they might present their alleged evidence.
This Bill is going through at breakneck speed. This case was before the courts in April and this Bill was proposed on 22 July. The Government wants not only to effectively kill the decision made in the Burns case in its entirety, but to also make it even easier to present evidence from third parties in civil proceedings, which would result in a free-for-all. One will not even have to identify where one got information. According to this Bill as currently worded, it will be enough to believe it to be true. That is very wrong and very unfair. It will cause massive undue hardship for poor people who may have done nothing wrong.
This Bill cannot and should not be allowed to pass in this form. It is a blatant attempt to further the cause of vulture funds and receivers in particular, who have been finding the courts a much rockier road of late. Chapter 3 needs to be amended. More properly, it should be disregarded. If we, as elected Members, let down ordinary working people, including farmers, house owners, and business people, by making it easier for vulture funds to take their property from them and sell it on, we will have abdicated our duty. As Deputy Mattie McGrath said, we all know what vultures are. The way the banks have handled this, in selling debts to vulture funds, is wrong in the first place. That is what we should be addressing. We should get rid of these funds. The banks should never have been allowed sell debts to vulture funds.