Independent TD Mick Wallace has introduced a bill in the Dail in a bid to bring High Court and Circuit Court judgments into line with bankruptcy legislation by reducing their lifetime from 12 to two years.
In a move aimed at banks and vulture funds specifically, Wallace, pictured, is also seeking to have the statute of limitations covering the period in which they can recover a debt or judgment from a borrower reduced from six to two years.
Introducing the first stage of the Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Bill in the Dail last Thursday, the Independent TD highlighted the difference in the treatment currently afforded to the living and the dead in relation to the recovery of their debt. Under existing legislation, Wallace noted that the debts and judgments of a deceased person become statute barred after two years.
Contrasting this with the legislation that applies to living debtors, Wallace said: "It seems that under current legislation, living people must face a worse fate than death and are expected to continue to exist in limbo for six to 12 years."
Wallace's proposed legal changes are based in large part on a report produced by the Law Reform Commission in 2011, which recommended the length of a civil claim based on a contract debt be reduced from six to two years.
Referring to the 12-year duration of High Court and Circuit Court judgments, Wallace told the Dail that those who "do not wish to go through the insolvency or bankruptcy route but who are making their best efforts" to repay their debts were having the "last ounce of blood" extracted from them by their banks.
Wallace, who was declared bankrupt last December on foot of a €2m debt acquired by the US private equity giant Cerberus from Ulster Bank, said Cerberus and other "vulture funds" were adding to the problem. He criticised Finance Minister Michael Noonan's comment that the term 'vulture fund' was actually a "compliment" because "vultures provide a very good service in the ecology through cleaning up dead animals that are littered across the landscape".
Wallace said: "He [Noonan] would do well to remember that the dead animals the vultures are cleaning up are the Irish people, some of whom are well into their 70s and 80s."
Sunday Indo Business