Saturday 21 April 2018

Couple appeal ruling blocking their challenge to lender's debt deal veto

(Stock picture)
(Stock picture)
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

A couple has lodged an appeal against a court decision that they had no legal standing to challenge KBC Bank over its decision to refuse them a deal on their debts.

The case, which will now be heard by the High Court, has implications for hundreds of others, with some observers warning the future of a key part of Ireland's insolvency regime may hinge on the outcome.

The Circuit Court ruled earlier this month that debtors' personal insolvency practitioners (PIPs), and not debtors themselves, must seek court reviews in situations where banks veto a proposed personal insolvency arrangement (PIA).

Judges have the power to overrule banks which veto PIAs under measures introduced in 2015 to tackle mortgage arrears and slow the tide of repossessions.

But following the decision by Judge Susan Ryan, the Association of Personal Insolvency Practitioners (APIP) said it believed PIPs would no longer lodge appeals for fear of being lumped with the legal costs, which can be up to €20,000 per case. It said its members would also have no option but to withdraw up to 450 court appeals against bank vetoes already in the system.

Both the Insolvency Service of Ireland and the Department of Justice have sought to dampen fears over the ruling.

However, APIP says its members can't take the risk on behalf of clients.

The north Co Dublin couple at the centre of the case lodged an appeal of Judge Ryan's decision on Thursday and the case has been listed before the High Court next month.

The couple, who are the parents of three young children, face losing their home if the deal, approved by their PIP but rejected by KBC, does not get court approval.

Under the proposed PIA, the couple's debts of €739,000 would have been written down to €360,000.

Irish Independent

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