Major report says consumers need proper legal protections
FLAC today launches a major report on how consumers are not adequately protected when it comes to obtaining credit and other financial services.
Redressing the Imbalance critically examines the legal protections available to consumers of credit and other financial services in Ireland. It identifies a number of deficiencies and gaps in how such protections are provided. It also suggests that a systemic approach has evolved which has consistently served to prioritise the interests of financial service institutions over those of consumers. The report provides a detailed account of how European-level developments, piecemeal domestic legislation and selective financial regulation have combined to leave many consumers of financial service in Ireland – in particular consumers of credit and distressed mortgage borrowers – particularly exposed. Drawing on the experiences of consumers and their advocates, the study further highlights how such exposure can be compounded by difficulties accessing and using mechanisms ostensibly designed to facilitate the resolution of complaints against providers. The report concludes with a series of recommendations as to how these flaws in the legal infrastructure might be redressed from a financial service user perspective.
New video resources on court procedures
FLAC has launched a new series of videos explaining how the Irish courts work. These basic video guides are available to view on FLAC's YouTube channel and cover issues like appearing in court and the structure of the courts system as well as legal terminology and documents.
You can watch the videos on our news page or go straight to our YouTube channel to view the three clips.The series was launched at FLAC's 7th annual Dave Ellis Lecture given by Martin O'Brien of the Atlantic Philanthropies on 5 December 2013.
FLAC marks Human Rights Week 2013 with web calendar and annual lecture
United Nations Human Rights Day takes place on 10 December every year to celebrate human rights, highlight a specific issue, and advocate for the full enjoyment of all human rights by everyone everywhere. The date was chosen to honour the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations on 10 December 1948.
FLAC has created a pop-up site to showcase events going on around Ireland to celebrate human rights, in a calendar format from 5 to 15 December, showing how diverse and important human rights are to people countrywide. It also shows the array of organisations working for human rights in this country. Our own event to mark this important period was the annual Dave Ellis Memorial Lecture on 5 December. (You can now also download the text of Martin's lecture on 'Law as a vehicle for social change'.)
Please share the information on the various events and campaigns - and don't forget to use the hashtag - #hrweek2013
New bankruptcy regime now operational
On 3 December 2013, the Minister for Justice and Equality is expected to sign a regulation that will start a new regime for bankruptcy in Ireland.
The main changes are:
- Discharge period will be down from 12 (or even 20) years to 3 years.
- A person must be insolvent with debts exceeding assets of €20,000 or more.
- A person will be able to apply for their own bankruptcy but only if they have first considered a personal insolvency arrangement or debt settlement arrangement
- Creditors will still be able to apply to bankrupt a person if the debt owed is over €20,000.
- A feature of the new rules will allow for an order to be made where a bankrupt person will have to pay income to creditors for 5 years. If this order is made at the end of the bankruptcy, the bankrupt may be paying creditors for up to 8 years.
- Bankruptcy will still be a painful, messy affair with costs to meet.
- A comprehensive information guide is available on the official website of the Insolvency Service of Ireland as well as some bankruptcy case studies.
For those in mortgage arrears, FLAC has prepared a new guide which will take people through the mechanisms available up to insolvency. The guide, which is free to download from the FLAC website as a PDF, suggests how borrowers might use the Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears and other options open to them. Alongside this guide, you can also view materials from our info session in May on 'Moving out of personal debt' which covered insolvency and bankruptcy as well.