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THE INSOLVENCY SERVICE OF IRELAND IS NOW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FROM PROSPECTIVE PRACTITIONERS AND ANNOUNCES ADDITIONAL DEVELOPMENTS

The Insolvency Service of Ireland (ISI) is putting in place a countrywide network of Approved Intermediaries (AIs) and Personal Insolvency Practitioners (PIPs) who will work directly with people who are in debt and are insolvent.  Applications are now being accepted by the ISI from those who wish to be authorised to practise as AIs or PIPs.

Section 161 of the Personal Insolvency Act 2012 ("the Act") provides that the ISI may make Regulations for the purposes of the authorisation, control and supervision of Personal Insolvency Practitioners.  Section 47 of the Act provides for the authorisation of Approved Intermediaries by the ISI.

The ISI is now publishing Regulations in accordance with the above on its website www.isi.gov.ie.

A further Regulation pursuant to Section 173 of the Act will be published before the end of June.  This shall cover the keeping and preservation of accounts and records by PIPs.

Authorisation of Approved Intermediaries and Personal Insolvency Practitioners

How to become a Personal Insolvency Practitioner

If an individual wishes to apply to become a PIP he or she should visit the Regulation section on the ISI website and familiarise themselves with the terms of the Regulations.   Suitable applicants can then proceed to complete an electronic application form. The application form must be supported by declarations in relation to professional indemnity insurance and taxation issues, amongst others. Applicants must also show that they have satisfactorily completed a course and exam from a relevant professional educational body on personal insolvency and practise in the State. Applicants must also meet certain fitness and probity standards.

How to become an Approved Intermediary

If an individual or body corporate wishes to apply to become an AI they should visit the Regulation section on the ISI website and familiarise themselves with the terms of the Regulations. Suitable applicants can then proceed to complete an electronic application form and provide specified information.  Applicants must also show that they have satisfactorily completed a course and exam from a relevant professional educational body on personal insolvency and practise in the State. Applicants must also meet certain fitness and probity standards.

Timeline

Once applications for authorisation are made, it is anticipated that the ISI will be in a position to issue authorisations within 10 working days.  As soon as an individual or corporate body is authorised, their details will be available on the ISI website.  

It is expected that insolvent debtors can contact AIs and PIPs and begin to receive initial advice from them in the second half of July.  The ISI expects to begin receiving applications for Debt Relief Notices or Protective Certificates in the case of a Debt Settlement Arrangement or Personal Insolvency Arrangement shortly thereafter. A Protective Certificate is a Certificate issued by the Court which protects the debtor against legal proceedings or other actions by a creditor in respect of debts for a limited time while a Debt Settlement Arrangement or Personal Insolvency Arrangement is being put in place.

It is likely that the number of Approved Intermediaries and Personal Insolvency Practitioners will increase steadily throughout the summer and autumn.  It is likely to be August before a "critical mass" of duly authorised Practitioners will be in place across the country.

Further Regulations

The ISI intends to issue further Regulations covering Approved Intermediaries and Personal Insolvency Practitioners following the enactment of the Courts Bill 2013.

Updates to the ISI Guidelines on a Reasonable Standard of Living and Reasonable Living Expenses

Section 23 of the Act requires the Insolvency Service of Ireland to publish guidelines as to what constitutes a Reasonable Standard of Living and Reasonable Living Expenses.  These guidelines were published as part of the launch of the ISI’s information campaign in April. In preparing the guidelines, the Act requires the Insolvency Service to have regard to a number of matters including the Consumer Price Index (CPI).  Since the April publication, the Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice has updated its research to reflect CPI information up to March 2013. 
The ISI is publishing an updated guide today on its website to reflect this CPI adjustment. This ensures that a practitioner will be using the most up-to-date information available when he or she begins dealing with insolvent debtors in the coming weeks and months. The Act requires the ISI to issue guidelines at intervals of such length, not to be more than one year, as it considers appropriate.  It is the intention of the ISI to reissue these guidelines annually reflecting the CPI adjustments.  The updated guide also addresses an anomaly that had been contained in the original guide in respect of food costs of two parent families.
The overall impact of these changes is not material and ensures that the analysis is both up-to-date and accurate. While CPI adjustments for individual categories of expenditure differ, the net impact for a single individual with a car results in their ‘set costs’ increasing 1.5% when compared to the figures contained in the April guide. 

Application Fees

The following fees shall be prescribed by the ISI in the coming weeks:

  • Application for a Debt Relief Notice, €100
  • Application for a Protective Certificate (Debt Settlement Arrangement), €250
  • Application for a Protective Certificate (Personal Insolvency Arrangement), €500.

Additional Sample Scenarios

The ISI published a number of sample scenarios as part of its information campaign launch in April.  These were designed to ensure that all stakeholders including debtors, creditors and practitioners were familiar with the range of solutions that might apply for a given set of circumstances. Today the ISI launches an update to the sample scenario pack to reflect three new scenarios including debt owed to the Revenue Commissioners together with a revision of the existing sample scenarios to reflect the updated Guidelines on a Reasonable Standard of Living and Reasonable Living Expenses.

25 June 2013

ENDS

For media queries please contact:
ISI Communications Team, tel: 076 106 4248
Email: press@isi.gov.ie 
Website: www.isi.gov.ie

Notes for Editor

  •  The Government recently announced the nomination of 6 new Specialist Judges for appointment to the Circuit Court.  These Judges will deal with personal insolvency matters.
  • A number of professional bodies have already provided training courses to those interested in applying to become a practitioner.  The ISI understands that further courses are planned by such bodies, as a result of demand from interested individuals exceeding capacity.  
  • The development of the IT solution for the ISI business model is nearing completion.  The ISI has commenced user acceptance testing.  In parallel, the ISI is liaising with third party software providers to PIPs, to ensure compatibility between the ISI system and their PIP offerings.
  • Since its establishment on the 1st of March 2013, the ISI has been focused on putting in place the necessary measures to enable acceptance of applications for the new debt solutions introduced by the Personal Insolvency Act 2012 as soon as possible.  This work includes the following:
    • Launching an information campaign in mid April 2013, which included the publication of various guides to the new debt solutions; the publication of a guide identifying a Reasonable Standard of Living and Reasonable Living Expenses; the publication of various sample scenarios and the launch of an information line and website.
    • The move to new offices.
    • The recruitment of staff.  
    • Liaising with key stakeholders representing debtors, creditors, the courts service and practitioners.
    • Setting up corporate governance structures and procedures for the organisation.
    • Preparing for the integration of the office of the Official Assignee.
    • The development and introduction of Regulations to support the authorisation of Approved Intermediaries and Personal Insolvency Practitioners.
    • The development of a comprehensive IT solution to meet the operational needs of the Insolvency Service.
    • Identifying certain amendments required to the Personal Insolvency Act  2013 to ensure that the objectives underlying the Act are met in an  efficient and effective manner. 
    • The operation of a public information line (076 106 4200) which by the end of May had received almost 2,500 calls and emails via its website, www.isi.gov.ie.  The website was visited over 31,000 times.
  • The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence Mr. Alan Shatter, T.D., has stated that it is the Government’s intention to introduce further provisions to the Courts Bill 2013 to transfer the office of the Official Assignee, currently under the remit of the Courts Services, to the ISI.  It is anticipated that the Courts Bill will be passed into law in July.
  • It is also expected that the Courts Bill will contain certain amendments to the Personal Insolvency Act 2012 to ensure the efficient and effective operation of the ISI.
  • Currently ISI staff numbers total 74 people with a long term requirement of 91 people. 

Summary of New Debt Arrangements in Ireland:

Arrangement  Type of debt covered    Value   Duration    Can only apply through
 Debt Relief Notice  Unsecured (and some secured in certain cases)    Up to €20,000    3 years  Approved Intermediary
 Debt Settlement Arrangement   Unsecured  No limit    5 years (+1)   Personal Insolvency Practitioner
 Personal Insolvency Arrangement   
 Unsecured and secured 
 No limit on unsecured
Up to €3m secured (though cap can increase if agreed) 
   6 years (+1)   

Personal Insolvency Practitioner