Monday 26 September 2016

Courts Service report shows number of personal debt cases before courts has fallen

Sarah-Jane Murphy

Published 13/07/2015 | 13:49

Mrs Justice Susan Denham
Mrs Justice Susan Denham
The Four Courts Dublin

New figures released by the Courts Service show that the number of personal debt cases coming before the courts have dramatically decreased.

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In 2014, cases taken by creditors to recover unpaid monies fell by 27% in the High Court, by 43% in the Circuit Court and by 41% in the District Court when compared with 2013's figures.

Launching the Court Service of Ireland's annual report 2014, the Chief Justice, Mrs. Justice Susan Denham, said that the figures indicate that "a more realistic approach to personal debt is being reflected in cases coming to court."

She said that the fall in debt recovery actions demonstrates that creditors have accepted that they cant succeed in bringing each and every case to court and are instead looking for alternative means of dispute resolution.

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It may also indicate that after years of austerity people are in a position to begin clearing personal debt.

The report also shows a significant increase in people seeking bankruptcy, indicating that it is now seen as a method of as providing protection to those in an unfavourable financial position.

In 2014 there were 941 applications under the debt resolution mechanisms introduced under the Personal Insolvency Act 2012, with 48 people being adjudicated bankrupt.

It is noteworthy that only 16 of these  bankruptcies were on foot of applications brought by creditors, 432 were initiated by those in debt themselves – a 568% increase on 2013.

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Beginning this month, the Courts Service is joining with MABS, the Citizen Information Board, and the Insolvency Service of Ireland to bring independent information and advice to court houses across the country.

Starting as a pilot in six locations - and being rolled out nationwide in the autumn - the services will ensure that every time the Circuit Court sits to hear possession matters there will be information and personal debt advisers present to engage with people about their options.

The service will offer clarity and understanding as to the options available to those who find themselves in debt.  The Chief Justice described the development as "a great joint effort of the state and its agencies."

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