Saturday 20 December 2014

Wealthy are protected

Published 24/11/2013 | 01:00

Madam – So now the Private Insolvency Practitioner who was lambasted for saying that in assessing reasonable income he would have to take into account the status of professional people (Gene Kerrigan, Sunday Independent, November 17, 2013) has been proved at least partially right.

If anything, he understated the position by limiting it to the liberal professions. The High Court has confirmed that if you run into serious financial trouble your family may still be able to access income in keeping with the "lifestyle to which you have become reasonably accustomed".

It decided that the family of one of the developers of Priory Hall was entitled to an allowance of €108,000 a year to meet living costs (including, notably, golf club membership of €2,000!).

No one wants to see any family destitute. But there should be limits. Cases such as this are an affront to any sense of equity. They must be resented bitterly by those who are struggling to eke out a living, never mind a lifestyle.

The fact that the allowance is legitimate because it comes from assets, the ownership of which is disputed, will be of no consolation. Cases of this sort reinforce the view that the wealthier classes remain protected.

During the boom we heard a lot about the prospects for upward mobility. That would imply that there would be a corresponding degree of downward mobility. Our laws and practices tend to rule out the latter for some, even in times of recession.

It is ironic that within 24 hours of that court decision, the Governor of the Central Bank warned on national TV that "people will not get back to the living standards of five years ago". Presumably he was referring to ordinary people.

John F Jordan,

Killiney, Co Dublin

Sunday Independent

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