FLAC reaction to frustration of Master of High Court

12 May 2011

The frustration felt by the Master of the High Court, Master Edmund Honohan, at the lack of an effective legal system for people who are seriously over indebted is also a longstanding matter of concern for FLAC. We have long called for the reform of an antiquated legal system which is not fit for purpose in the current recession. Similar calls are made by a range of organisations including the Law Reform Commission, the Irish Banking Federation and even the IMF. Proposals to examine change are also in the Programme for Government

However, progress on reform has been miniscule. In FLAC's view, this is due to the lack of a comprehensive government approach. According to FLAC's director general Noeline Blackwell: "It seems that the government still has to come to grips with the absolute urgency of the need. Right now, people who are over-indebted must grapple with a court system which is never going to actually solve their problem and where all the power still lies with the lender. Banks will say that they are engaging with debtors, but they still can do this in whatever way this suits their agenda. Any sustainable solution will involve a number of sections of government coming together and coming up with an overall solution".

Ms. Blackwell went on to say that the technical work has been largely done, through sterling work of the Law Reform Commission over the past 3 years. "What is needed now is the political will to implement a solution" she said


Editors' notes:
1. This press release is FLAC's reaction to statements of the Master of the High Court, Master Edmond Honohan on 11 May 2011, widely carried in the media, expressing his frustration with the existing legal system. The Master issued his own Briefing note on the matter.
2. FLAC's Factsheet explaining the new revised Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears is available on the FLAC website - or for direct download click here.
3. FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres) is an independent human rights organisation which works to promote equal access to justice for all. It runs a lo-call telephone information line giving general legal information and supports a network of evening FLAC clinics around Ireland. FLAC has produced research reports in the area of personal debt: 'An Ends Based Means' and 'To No One's Credit' in 2003 and 2009 respectively.