Law & Regulation
With all the focus on water charges, you could be forgiven for missing what I consider, potentially, one of the best developments in Consumer Credit Control in this country – ever.
The Government has recently approved new Civil Debt Legislation that has the potential to revolutionise the collection of money owed by consumers for debts incurred. The current legal system is not fit for purpose, with the ultimate legal sanction being imprisonment for the non-fulfilment of an Installment Order in relation to unpaid debts.
I have long argued that this system is not only unjust, it doesn’t serve anyone; the person who is owed the money, who still doesn’t get it, the person who owes the money, who now has a prison record, not to mention the damage such a period of incarceration has on the rest of their lives or the State who has to foot the bill for the jail sentence.
The civilised way to deal with such issues is to allow for attachment of earnings on both wages and Social Welfare payments that ensures the debt is cleared over a period of time, the threat of prison is removed along with all the court and legal costs associated with such a course of action.
We have to be clear here, the purpose of the legislation has to be the eventual payment of money owed, and it has to take into account the person’s ability to pay and must be linked to maintaining a reasonable standard of living in the meantime.
The Insolvency Service of Ireland has set out what they consider to be “Reasonable living expenses” although some could argue that in some cases this level of expenditure is more than fair (see www.isi.gov) it is still a standard that can be applied for the benefit of all.
We can learn from countries like South Africa, who have legislation in place for attachment on earnings without any safeguards regarding living standards and we have to be careful not to go down this route, to preserve a civilised society.
At this stage we are not clear if the Legislation will cover all Civil Debt or simply Water Charges and fines. I will use whatever power I have to lobby the Government to make sure all debt is included, and in this way we can have a clear process for collecting all debts that are owed.
We now have insolvency legislation in place for the protection of people who are insolvent, current experience is showing, however, that the wrong people are availing of this facility and there are Companies out there who are bending the legislation for their own gain, this may be the topic of a further post, for now as Credit Professionals we have to stand together to make this work for the benefit of all.
If you would be interested in joining me to effect these changes, you can email me directly on firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get the ball rolling.
Civil Debt Legislation in Ireland
Irish Credit Management Training,
121 Lower Baggot Street,
M: 087 2447052
P: 01 659 9466
F: 01 659 9401
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