Balance lender powers with consumer protections in reforming repossessions law

30 April 2013

Generic Image - Noeline at FLAC front door

As a relatively small but very important piece of law is being proposed to effectively make it easier for lenders to process repossessions through the courts, legal rights group FLAC is calling for a number of key issues to be addressed by legislators considering the Bill in the Dail today and tomorrow.

The new bill is being introduced to reverse the effects of a judgment given by High Court Judge Elizabeth Dunne in 2011. Broadly speaking, it became more difficult for lenders to repossess when she ruled that they could not use particular court processes to apply to repossess properties.

While the Bill focuses primarily on addressing the issues thrown up by the 'Dunne judgment', FLAC is anxious that the increase in lenders' powers proposed in the Bill be balanced by enhancing the protection available to over-indebted borrowers. To this end, FLAC is suggesting amendments to the Bill, but also that legislators take the opportunity to change provisions in the underlying Act of 2009.

In summary these are:

  1. Make the Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears admissible in court proceedings and ensure that lenders comply with it;
  2. Impose a limit on costs for debtors in court proceedings;
  3. Require that debtors have adequate legal and financial information and advice in legal proceedings, especially where they are being asked to sign a legal Consent to Repossession and in their dealings with lenders generally.

You can read the full statement on the FLAC website.




Editors' notes:

  1. FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres) is a human rights organisation which exists to promote equal access to justice for all. As an NGO, FLAC relies on a combination of statutory funding, contributions from the legal professions and donations from individuals and grant-making foundations to support its work.
  2. We offer basic legal information through our telephone information line and free legal advice through a network of 80 volunteer evening advice centres. FLAC also campaigns on a range of issues including personal debt, fairness in social welfare law, public interest law and civil legal aid.
  3. You can read the full text of the Bill online.
  4. FLAC recently prepared a comprehensive submission on the Central Bank's review of the Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears.
  5. We have summarised our recommendations on the CCMA review in a document available online.