Tuesday 20 March 2018

Civil servants to act as insolvency 'judges'

Dearbhail McDonald Legal Editor

THE Government has nominated six civil servants to act as "specialist" judges to deal with thousands of personal insolvencies and bankruptcies.

Six county registrars have been put forward for the €140,623-a-year posts, the same salary as a newly appointed Circuit Court judge.

The county registrars, who hold legal qualifications, will be made judges as part of plans to deal with any court delays arising from debt forgiveness disputes between debtors and lenders under the supervision of the new Insolvency Service of Ireland (ISI).

Court officials are putting plans in place to deal with up to 3,000 insolvencies in the ISI's first fully operational year – but they are expecting to deal with up to 30,000 in the first three to four years.

The move to appoint country registrars as judges with new working hours and conditions has caused controversy among the country's senior judges, who set up a representative body last year following the controversy over judicial pay and independence.

The specialist judges will not be entitled to enjoy the same holidays as ordinary judges, who enjoy a lengthy "long vacation" during August and September.

Those nominated for appointment are: Mary Enright, County Registrar for Kilkenny; Verona Lambe, County Registrar for Offaly; William Lyster, County Registrar for Roscommon; Patrick Meghan, County Registrar for Limerick; Mary O'Malley, County Registrar for Meath and Susan Ryan, County Registrar for Dublin.

In a statement, the Department of the Taoiseach said that in order to avoid expenditure on additional judicial salaries and pensions, eligibility for these new judgeships was initially confined under the provisions of the 2012 Personal Insolvency Act to serving county registrars.

"These independent office holders have the necessary legal qualifications and practice experience and are in receipt of state salaries ranging from €129,521 to €145,952," it said.

"In accordance with the legislation, (the) nominations follow the receipt of recommendations from the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board, which considered nine applications for the posts."

Irish Independent

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