Financial Regulator Consumer Panel adds weight to concerns for borrower protection

26 May 2009

Consultative Consumer Panel adds weight to concerns for borrower protection

The newly issued commentary of the Consumer Panel of the Financial Regulator adds worrying weight to FLAC's concerns that while banks are being protected by the State in the current financial turmoil, consumers are not. In the document, called the "Perspective of the Consumer Panel on the current financial regulatory framework", the Panel criticises the failure of the Financial Regulator to "control the property market bubble" and said that "most consumers have lost substantial sums of money because of the inadequate function of the present financial regulatory structures".
The legal rights organisation FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres), which has previously made submissions to the Financial Regulator in relation to the lack of regulation has stated in response to the report that that those most likely to take out sub-prime mortgages were the most vulnerable borrowers. According to FLAC director general Noeline Blackwell "Those borrowers were more desperate for money, and prepared to pay more and to take more risks. They were at the mercy of reckless lenders. Yet these sub-prime lenders were not regulated by the Financial Regulator until the bubble was well on the way to bursting".
The organisation states that it is concerned that even now, in mid-2009, the protection being offered to consumers is minimal and is insufficient. It is also concerned that any concern for consumers only dealt with mortgage debt. In fact, according to FLAC, there is an un-met need for regulation and protection of consumers across a wide range of loans.
According to FLAC, which campaigns for reform of financial consumer law, "The only action which has been taken to protect vulnerable borrowers has been a mortgage arrears code. Even that is mostly advisory to lenders rather than real regulation. It does not address the needs of those with chronic mortgage arrears nor does it strengthen systems for those who might get into difficulty in the future."

For further information, please contact

Noeline Blackwell, FLAC Director General or Paul Joyce, FLAC Senior Policy Researcher
FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres), 13 Lower Dorset Street, Dublin 1
Email : Web :


Editors' notes:
1. FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres) is an independent human rights organisation dedicated to the realisation of equal access to justice for all. It campaigns through advocacy, strategic litigation and authoritative analysis to contribute to the eradication of social and economic exclusion.
2. This press release is in reaction to the document "Perspective of the Consumer Panel on the Current Financial Regulatory Framework" May 2009 prepared by a sub-group of the Consumer panel and issued by IFSRA on the evening of May 25, 2009.
3. FLAC has previous submissions to Oireachtas Committees and to the Financial Regulator on this topic which can be accessed at