TROUBLED mortgage holders facing legal action by banks will be offered the services of some of the country's top barristers for free.
The Irish Bar Council has offered free legal representation to the Irish Mortgage Holders' Organisation (IMHO) and its financially distressed clients through its voluntary assistance programme.
The agreement means that the some of the most experienced legal eagles on the block will weigh in behind ordinary mortgage holders, who typically face armies of lawyers deployed by financial institutions.
The volunteer programme is chaired by senior counsel Michael Cush, who is currently acting for the property tycoon Paddy McKillen in a legal challenge relating to his ongoing battle with the billionaire Barclay Brothers. He has also acted for Treasury Holdings.
Other senior counsel on the committee include David Barniville, Paul McGarry and Turlough O'Driscoll.
The Bar Council met the IMHO last week, offering to work with the organisation. David Hall of the IMHO said he was delighted with the offer.
"This is a very significant move by the Bar Council to help indebted mortgage holders in Ireland," he said. "Our objective is to keep debtors out of court by reaching deals with banks. However, in the event of assistance being required, this relationship will allow hard-pressed mortgage holders being pursued by the bank to get legal representation when they could otherwise never afford it."
Mr Hall said the Bar Council's intervention was particularly welcome as the IMHO was dealing with a number of legally tricky and sensitive cases at the moment. Its clients include a number of gardai in financial difficulty, who technically face disciplinary action, suspension or dismissal from the force for not paying their debts.
"We regularly require technical and sensitive legal opinions and this will allow us access to expert opinion," he added.