Insolvency service receives 78 applications from potential personal insolvency practitioners and intermediaries

Level of applications pathetic, Irish Mortgage Holders’ Association says

The service was set up to provide pathways for those in debt to return to solvency. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Some 78 people have so far applied to the new Insolvency Service of Ireland to become approved intermediaries and personal insolvency practitioners (Pips).

The insolvency service has been accepting applications from potential practitioners since June 25th.

The service was set up to provide pathways for those in debt to return to solvency. It was established by Minister for Justice Alan Shatter earlier this year.

Demand

The Minister said demand for the service was estimated at up to 19,000 applications in a full year.

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Applicants who want to avail of the insolvency service will have to do so through Pips and approved intermediaries. Intermediaries will deal with people applying for debt-relief notices who have debts of up to €20,000, and Pips will deal with applicants for debt settlement arrangements and personal insolvency arrangements, involving people with higher unsecured debts and mortgage debts of up to €3 million.

In a statement to The Irish Times, the insolvency service said: "It is likely that the number of approved intermediaries and personal insolvency practitioners will increase steadily throughout the summer and autumn."

David Hall of the Irish Mortgage Holders’ Association described the number of applicants for registration as Pips and intermediaries as “pathetic given the volumes that were expected to be involved. The biggest single concern with fewer Pips is going to be it will become an elitist, expensive racket.”

He said it had "all the hallmarks of becoming a money up-front service" that would "advantage those who have some money to pay a Pip".

Loophole

He also pointed out that the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Bill 2013 was due to be passed by the Seanad this week. The Bill closes a loophole in a previous Act which has prevented lenders from repossessing the majority of mortgaged homes since 2011.

The insolvency service was supposed to be opened in March, Mr Hall said, but this was then “pushed out to June”.

“It’s now July and all we keep hearing is spin. Anything that might benefit the borrower has come last,” he added.

“It is incredible that a Bill like the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Bill would be passed without the protection of the insolvency service.”

Fiona Gartland

Fiona Gartland

Fiona Gartland is a crime writer and former Irish Times journalist