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Credit Union borrowers hauled to court

CREDIT union borrowers are being hauled through the courts in increasing numbers, new figures have revealed.

The 407 co-operative lenders in the State were traditionally reluctant to take legal action against borrowers.

But since the onslaught of the recession, credit unions have turned to the courts to get money back if they feel they have no other options.

A total of 3,670 people were pursued aggressively by credit unions through the courts last year.

Credit unions now account for approximately one in every eight judgements obtained by all lenders.

This figure is double the amount obtained in 2009.

The average loan taken out by credit union members was listed at €8,300.

Debts

But a representative for the Irish League of Credit Unions said the decision to pursue a debt in court was only if a member refused to discuss their debts or agree to a rescheduling of repayments. They said although they regret that figures are on the increase it was a "sad reflection of the economic difficulties that many of our members are facing".

Stubbs Gazette's figures estimated the number of judgements being granted to credit unions because, since October 2010, the Court Services has refused permission to correspondents to collect unregistered judgements.

Unregistered judgements account for more than 80pc of total judgements.

Back in 2009, it was revealed that the arrears of the State's 407 credit unions have now risen to €1bn and the latest figures from Stubbs Gazette show that credit unions continue to top the list of those securing registered judgements.

In just one week, a number of credit unions had a total of €114,000 in judgements registered against 16 members last week. In 2009, the average value that was pursued by credit unions was at €7,000.

A company called Registry Trust/Irish Judgements is preparing to take legal action over the move to curtail access to judgement information. The courts earlier said that it was not specifically written into statute that information on unregistered judgements could be collected, even though Stubbs had been collecting these since 2000.

If an individual fails to pay a debt, their creditor can go to court and get a court judgement confirming the money is owed.

The creditor can then enforce the judgement by having goods seized or getting the court to put in place an instalment order.

clairemurphy@herald.ie


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