Personal Insolvency Practitioners Complaints Panel to be Established

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter, TD is seeking expressions of interest from suitably-qualified persons for inclusion on a panel from which from time to time a Personal Insolvency Practitioners Complaints Committee will be appointed as required under the provisions contained in section 177 and Schedule 3 of the Personal Insolvency Act 2012*.

The closing date for receipt of expressions of interest is Friday 27 September, 2013. Appointments to this Panel will be made by the Minister for Justice and Equality.

(Photo: The Journal.ie)

(Photo: The Journal.ie)

* The Personal Insolvency Act 2012 was signed into law by the President on 26 December 2012. It provides for:

Three new non-judicial debt settlement arrangements as follows:
i. A Debt Relief Notice to allow for the writing-off of debt, subject to conditions, up to €20,000 for persons of no assets – no income, subject to a supervision period of 3 years;
ii. A Debt Settlement Arrangement for the agreed settlement of unsecured debt (no limit applies to provide maximum flexibility) normally over a period of 5 years;
iii. A Personal Insolvency Arrangement for the agreed settlement of both secured up to €3 million (though the upper limit can be increased by agreement of creditors) and unsecured debt (no limit) normally over a period of 6 years.

Reform of the Bankruptcy Act 1988; critically to provide for the automatic discharge from bankruptcy, subject to certain conditions, after 3 years; and

The establishment of the new Insolvency Service of Ireland to operate the new non-judicial insolvency arrangements.

The ISI was established on 01 March 2013. The Personal Insolvency Act 2012 has been fully commenced with the exception of Part 4 which continues the reform of bankruptcy laws. This is expected to commence in the coming months.

18 orders and regulations pursuant to the Personal Insolvency Act 2012 have been made to date. The legislation, together with a complete listing of these statutory instruments is available to the public on the ISI website at http://www.isi.gov.ie.

As of Monday, 09 September, there are 37 personal insolvency practitioners and 7 approved intermediaries authorised. As MABS are applying on a corporate basis for authorisation as approved intermediaries the 7 approvals correspond to 25 individuals capable of acting as approved intermediaries.

Personal Insolvency Practitioners Complaints Panel

The Personal Insolvency Act 2012 was signed into law by the President on 26 December 2012. Section 177 of the Act makes provision for the Minister for Justice and Equality to establish a panel of persons to act on a committee to be known as the Personal Insolvency Practitioners Complaints Committee.
Schedule 3 of the Act requires that the panel shall be comprised of at least 7 persons, each of whom shall have relevant experience or special knowledge which will enable him or her to carry out his or her functions under the Act. The Act requires that at least two of the persons appointed to this panel shall be a solicitor or a barrister.

The term of appointment is not specified in the Act but, it is proposed that the term of office for the initial Personal Insolvency Practitioners Complaints Panel will run for an initial period of five years, i.e. until a date in 2018.

Personal Insolvency Practitioners Complaints Committee

Where an inspector is appointed by the Insolvency Service of Ireland (ISI) under section 180(1)(b) of the Personal Insolvency Act 2012 to carry out an investigation into alleged improper conduct by a personal insolvency practitioner the ISI shall request the Minister for Justice and Equality to appoint a Complaints Committee from the panel.

The Act provides for the Complaints Committee to receive the final form of the investigation report from the inspector and consider the matter. Pursuant to section 182 of the Act, the Complaints Committee shall make a determination as to whether the conduct of the personal insolvency practitioner constitutes improper conduct. The Complaints Committee may conduct an oral hearing where it is of the opinion that for the purposes of observing fair procedures it is appropriate to do so. Such oral hearing will be in accordance with Part 2 of Schedule 2 of the Act.

Where improper conduct is found, the Complaints Committee will determine whether the appropriate sanction is a minor sanction or a major sanction. Section 184 provides that the Complaints Committee in considering whether a sanction ought to be imposed or the appropriate sanction to be imposed shall take into account the circumstances of the improper conduct concerned.

If a minor sanction is proposed, the Complaints Committee shall determine which of the sanctions specified in section 159 of the Act is the appropriate one in the circumstances of the case and shall impose that sanction. Where the Complaints Committee determines that the appropriate sanction is a major sanction it shall refer the matter to the High Court and make a recommendation as to the appropriate sanction.

 

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