Public consultation: invitation for submissions (closing date 30 June 2017)
The Department of Justice and Equality is seeking the views of interested parties on the operation of Part 3 of the Personal Insolvency Acts 2012 - 2015.
What does Part 3 of the Personal Insolvency Acts cover?
Part 3 of the Personal Insolvency Acts provides for the definition and operation in practice of the three protected debt resolution processes for insolvent individuals which were introduced in 2012:
- Debt Relief Notices,
- Debt Settlement Arrangements, and
- Personal Insolvency Arrangements.
Part 3 also provides for:
- the insolvent person to appoint a personal insolvency practitioner to assist and advise them,
- statutory rules on the protection of debtors and of creditors in case of personal insolvency,
- the legal effects where a proposed arrangement is agreed by the necessary majority of creditors,
- review by the courts in certain cases where a personal insolvency proposal which includes mortgage arrears on a family home is refused by creditors,
- offences if a person seeks to abuse these processes,
- registers of insolvency arrangements, and other matters.
(Bankruptcy is covered by Part 4 of the Acts, but is outside the scope of Part 3.)
Changes already made, and updated text
The enactment of the Personal Insolvency Act 2012 constituted a far-reaching, substantial and comprehensive reform of Irish insolvency law. Significant further amendments were enacted in 2013 and in 2015, including changes, in Part 3, to the Debt Review Notice and the new Court review in certain personal insolvency cases. A consolidated text, prepared by the Law Reform Commission, of Part 3 of the Personal Insolvency Acts 2012-2015 (as amended) can be found here. Further information on its operation in practice is available on the website of the Insolvency Service of Ireland.
The requirement to review
This consultation takes place following section 141 of the Personal Insolvency Act 2012, which requires the Minister for Justice and Equality (in consultation with the Minister for Finance) to review the operation of Part 3, to complete the review within one year, and to report on its outcome to both Houses of the Oireachtas. The full text of section 141 is set out below.
Section 141 provided for this review to start not later than 3 years after the commencement of Part 3 (i.e. after 31 July 2013). In practice, Part 3 and its operation have been very extensively reviewed, amended and developed throughout that intervening period. This includes:
- significant amendments to Part 3 made by the Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2013 and by the Personal Insolvency (Amendment) Act 2015;
- important amendments to bankruptcy law which affect the operation of Part 3, made by the 2013 Act and by the Bankruptcy (Amendment) Act 2015;
- the reform of personal insolvency fees and charges in 2014; and
- the implementation in 2015 and 2016 of Government commitments to strengthen support for those in home mortgage arrears, particularly the launch in October 2016 of the Abhaile scheme of State-funded financial and legal advice and assistance for those in home mortgage arrears (including advice and assistance on personal insolvency).
This consultation is intended to complete the overall review envisaged by section 141, by giving stakeholders an opportunity to make known their views on the operation to date of Part 3, including the impact to date of the various changes set out above. The submissions received will be analysed and considered within (at most) 12 months of the date of this notice, and a report will be prepared and laid before each House of the Oireachtas, as soon as reasonably practicable thereafter.
Submissions are specifically invited on the thresholds and processes under Part 3 for Personal Insolvency Arrangements (including for insolvent persons who are unincorporated small or medium entrepreneurs) and on whether these should be changed. The Government has committed to review this issue, under the Programme for Partnership Government.
The full text of section 141 is as follows:
Review of operation of Part 3
141.— (1) The Minister shall, in consultation with the Minister for Finance, not later than 3 years after the commencement of this Part, commence a review of its operation.
(2) A review under subsection (1) shall be completed not later than one year after its commencement.
(3) Having completed the review the Minister in consultation with the Minister for Finance shall prepare a report setting out the assessment arrived at and the reasons for that assessment.
(4) The Minister shall lay a copy of a report prepared under subsection (3) before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as reasonably practicable after it has been completed.
How to send submissions
The Department of Justice and Equality welcomes views on the operation of Part 3 of the Personal Insolvency Acts 2012 -2015 and invites stakeholders to make a submission.
Organisations or individuals wishing to contribute may send their views in writing (preferably by email) to the Department at the addresses below. Submissions should be marked “Consultation - Personal Insolvency Acts, Part 3”, and should arrive not later than Friday 30 June 2017. It would be helpful for submissions to set out the reasons for the views expressed, and to provide any available evidence on the need for any proposed changes and on their likely impact.
Any queries about the contents of this notice may be sent to the same address.
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org (with ‘Personal Insolvency Acts, Part 3’ in the subject line).
Consultation on Personal Insolvency Acts, Part 3,
Civil Law Reform Division,
Department of Justice & Equality,
Freedom of Information and publication of submissions
The Department may publish any submissions received on its website in due course, and may also receive requests for their disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act 2014.
It is therefore in the interests of respondents to highlight at the time of submission any information which they consider to be commercially sensitive, or to contain private or confidential material, and to specify the reasons for its sensitivity. The Department will consult with respondents regarding information identified by them as sensitive, before making a decision on any Freedom of Information request, and will treat any personal information in accordance with the Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2003.
30 March 2017