MEASURES to make it cheaper and easier for small private companies to restructure their debts through the courts have been revealed.
Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton said viable businesses will be able to apply directly to the Circuit Court to have an examiner appointed.
He said small businesses employ over a third of all people working in Ireland.
"This will mean that more businesses will survive their current difficulties, meaning crucially that more jobs will be saved and more jobs will be created in this hugely important part of the economy," he added.
The changes will affect small private companies which employ less than 50 people, have a balance sheet not exceeding €4.4m, and a turnover under €8.8m.
The firms must have two out of the three of the conditions to qualify.
Mr Bruton intends to make the changes in the Companies Acts through the upcoming Companies Bill, scheduled for publication before the end of the year.
"We must also recognise that there are many viable businesses in this sector, employing large numbers of people and with the potential to employ many more, which are facing significant difficulties because of legacy debts," he added.
"That is why we committed to putting in place better structures to enable these businesses to more easily restructure their debts, while giving proper consideration to other businesses and individuals owed money by them.
"Today's announcement that small companies will be able to apply to the Circuit Court for examinership will mean that is will be cheaper and easier for businesses to restructure their debts, meaning that more companies will be able to do so."