Tuesday 23 January 2018

Minister looks at new rules for receivers

Senator Ronan Mullen
Senator Ronan Mullen
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

Receivers are not just for the big guns - like the former Quinn Group and Clerys.

Irish lenders are increasingly appointing receivers to mortgaged properties, incurring significant fees for the debtor, which are ultimately added onto the bank debt.

Politicians have recently debated the trend in the Seanad. Senator Ronan Mullen recently recounted the experience of a businessman in north county Dublin, whose workshop, yard and family home were all on the same grounds.

"At midnight, a van full of what can only be described as thugs arrived, broke into the yard and surrounded the family home, while the receiver and his agent arrived behind them in a car and entered the warehouse to seize property as demanded by the banks," said Senator Mullen.

"The receiver had clearly co-ordinated his actions with his team of hired goons. The family in question called on the Garda Siochana, only to be told that it was a personal debt matter and that it did not involve the criminal law.

"The team of heavies who arrived with the receiver were connected to a debt collection agency with links to a well-known Dublin criminal."

Debtors have raised many cases of alleged mistreatment by agents acting for bank-appointed receivers over the years, some highlighted by organisations such as the anti-repossession organisation the New Land League.

Receivers will no doubt claim "surprise" is sometimes necessary to ensure the asset remains intact when they take it over.

Controls are also tighter since new legislation came in June 1. Although usually accountants and lawyers who are regulated by their own profession, in practice anyone can set themselves up as a liquidation/receivership expert. Now all non-regulated practitioners must register with the Irish accountancy body.

According to the Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald, cases of receivers using heavy-handed tactics were "isolated exceptions" but she is still looking at introducing some "rules and regulations governing their actions", and will report to the Oireachtas justice committee in the autumn.

The fees, however, are a matter for them.

Sunday Independent

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