People who get a debt write-off can only keep car valued under €1,200
PEOPLE who want to get a debt write-off will only be allowed to keep a car worth less than €1,200.
Under new legislation, people will be allowed to write off debts of up to €20,000 if they have no hope of repaying them.
But strict conditions will be imposed, including not owning a car worth more than €1,200 or keeping any jewellery worth more than €400.
However, families in debt distress will be able to keep an iPad or another computer worth more than €400 for their children's educational needs.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter rejected opposition calls to increase the value of the car that indebted families can keep from €1,200 to €3,000.
He said he did not agree with people being able to keep a vehicle if they had "substantially overreached themselves".
"Debts should not be written off where there is an ability to discharge them. That is a reasonable proposition," he said.
But there were protests from opposition TDs about the need for people in debt to be able to hold on to family-sized cars and even four-wheel drive SUVs.
Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae said farmers and contractors in rural areas would need their SUVs to be able to keep working.
"If it was worth more than €1,200, I would hate to see the wheels being taken out from under them. This is an important issue and a lot of people would fall into this category," he said.
Mr Shatter said the South Kerry TD should tell his local credit union why someone who had been unable to pay back a debt of €6,000 was still driving around in a jeep.
Mr Shatter pointed out that the vehicle value limit of €1,200 in his personal insolvency legislation was based on the £1,000 limit in place in the North.
Under the new law, a debt write-off can be given to a person with debts of under €20,000 who has no income, no assets and who is insolvent with no realistic prospect of being able to repay their debts within the next five years.
Under the current proposed legislation, debtors are only allowed to keep items of jewellery worth less than €400.
This has led to complaints that women would have to give up engagement or wedding rings.
But Mr Shatter has signalled that he will consider the jewellery matter again when the bill is considered by the Seanad.
The personal insolvency legislation is due to be passed by the Dail and Seanad before Christmas but the measures in it will not come into operation until January at the earliest.