Last week we saw the official launch of the Insolvency Service of Ireland which included the new web site www.isi.gov.ie, ISI information line, guides to the three types of insolvency, guidelines on reasonable standard of living, expenses for insolvent debtors and limited information on authorisation and regulation of insolvency practitioners.
The living expenses guidelines have been widely leaked over the past few weeks as I have previously written there are no significant changes from the leaked details. However, emphasis has been stressed on the flexibility of the guidelines based on the personal and family circumstances of the Debtor. There is a section in the guidelines, which discusses “special circumstances” which may apply to a debtor when the PIP is assessing reasonable expenses. Such special circumstances could apply to someone who has an elderly relative living with them.
Clarification of the allow ability of childcare expenses was given after the recent leaks. As Enda Kenny recently said in the Dail there is no question of childcare expenses not being allowed for a person applying for an insolvency arrangement. Minister Shatter confirmed this today at the launch and denied any political pressure to change that particular section.
In one of the examples it is suggested that a debtor would receive a write off of 40% of a home loan whilst keeping the home. When I asked the minister about this and his confidence that banks would agree to such an agreement he assured me that banks would fall into line, that they will work the legalisation and he himself will be keeping a watchful brief on what they are doing.
The guidelines on Reasonable Living Expenses (RLE) address the issue of what are reasonable expenses when assessing a debtor’s disposable income. This will determine what they will be able to pay to creditors for the duration of the agreement. There is little change to the expense levels, which have already been discussed in previous articles here by myself and others. The head of ISI Lorcan O’Connor was at pains to point it that the guidelines for reasonable expenses are just that, guidelines to assess what people can afford to pay creditors. There is no question of expenses being micro managed as this is in nobody’s interest.
The launch included for the first time limited information on who will qualify to be a Personal Insolvency Practitioner (PIP), how they will become authorised and what regulation they will be subject too. There is a provision in the Act that all practitioners must have an indemnity bond in place of €600,000 to protect debtors and creditors from malpractice by the PIP.
However, these details have yet to be finalised. The PIP will also have to have experience in insolvency and will have to complete an exam in the insolvency process. A potential shortage of such suitably qualified professionals may be an issue in the short term.
It is clear that from the outset of this process the PIP is going to be a vital part of this process and will have significant input into the success of any arrangement and the overall success of the insolvency service.
Throughout the launch both Minister Shatter and Lorcan O’Connor were at pains to point out that the insolvency process is about putting people back into a solvent position in a fair, flexible and equitable way.
So the information and guidelines have finally arrived now it is time for the real work to begin and for the ISI to get up and running. It was confirmed that the ISI will be up and running at the end of June and they will have appointed the first PIPS at the beginning of June. Let’s hope they are ready to cope with the inevitable rush of debtors they are going to be faced with for the foreseeable future!
For those who have been suffering from this financial cancer there is now light at the end of the tunnel even if the light is up to 6 years away. The shame of all this is that if the problem was addressed appropriately 5 years ago people would at this stage be out of the process and who knows how our economy would have recovered by now.