First debt settlement certs granted to brother and sister

Brother’s had monthly income of €4,800 and expenses of almost €5,000

A brother and sister granted protection certificates for debt settlement arrangements in the Dublin Circuit Court today will have the protection of the courts for 70 days.

Dublin’s first protection certificates for debt settlement arrangements were granted at the Circuit Court today.

Judge Susan Ryan granted the certificates to a brother and sister, both with separate addresses in Churchtown, Dublin. Neither sibling was in attendance at court.

Their personal insolvency practitioner (Pip) Tom Murray, of Friel Stafford in Dublin, was in attendance along with representatives from the Insolvency Service of Ireland (ISI).

A debt settlement arrangement is one of the three new debt resolution mechanisms introduced under the Personal Insolvency Act 2012. It is designed for individuals who have no prospect of paying off their debts in the next five years and applies to unsecured debt only, with no maximum figure.


Figures shown in the courtroom revealed the brother had income of just above €4,800 a month and expenses of almost €5,000. He also had qualifying liabilities of more than €284,000 and assets of €232,000, representing half the value of his home.

His sister had income of almost €5,500 a month and expenses of almost €5,700 with qualifying liabilities totalling more than €260,000 and assets of more than €148,000. This represented half of a 40 per cent title of the family home she held with her husband, the court heard. She also had one dependent child.

The brother and sister had sworn their statutory declarations outlining their debts and income on October 25th, had applied to the ISI on October 29th. They were approved to go forward for protection certificates on November 8th.

In both cases, Judge Ryan said she had examined the applications and supporting documentation and based on the material supplied was satisfied the applicants were qualified to apply for arrangements under the Act. She also said “on any reading of the figures” the man appeared to be insolvent.

The Judge raised a number of technical queries with Mr Murray and with Patricia O’Moore, assistant principal officer from the ISI, including a “commentary” in the documentation which she said did not assist her. She said she had the Pip’s statement and the ISI’s certificate and didn’t need to “look behind those”.

Judge Ryan said she was making her remarks to help the applications process into the future. Debt settlement had been introduced to assist people in very difficult situations.

“We are really not here to create obstacles; we are here to assist people,” she said. “I’m happy to make the orders.”

The brother and sister will now have the protection of the courts for 70 days, giving them time to come to a settlement arrangement with their creditors. Their names will be placed on the public protection certificate register held by the ISI.

The siblings’ arrangements must be approved by 65 per cent of their creditors. If they are agreed to, monies will be paid out to the creditors over a period of five years after which the siblings will be discharged from their debts.

The country’s first ever debt settlement arrangement was granted to a Donegal man at Monaghan Circuit Court last month.

There have yet to be any court applications for debt relief notices or for personal insolvency arrangements. The former is for people with unsecured debt up to €20,000 and the latter is for those with both secured and unsecured debt.

Fiona Gartland

Fiona Gartland

Fiona Gartland is a crime writer and former Irish Times journalist