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4,800 borrowers in arrears aided by Abhaile duty solicitor

28 Jan 2019 / courts Print

Abhaile duty solicitor helps 4,800 borrowers in arrears

Almost 4,800 borrowers facing repossession have legal assistance at court from an Abhaile duty solicitor, figures released today show.

And the majority of people availing of the free mortgage arrears support service, Abhaile, are staying in their homes.

Abhaile provides vouchers for free financial and legal advice available through the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS).

A total of 11,695 individual borrowers, or over 10,000 households, in mortgage arrears have received independent expert Abhaile financial advice and negotiation support.

Court mentor

And a court mentor has helped 7,100 borrowers facing repossession proceedings, under the aegis of Abhaile.

Today’s report shows that 95% of all personal insolvency arrangements negotiated by the Government-funded Abhaile are keeping people in their homes.

The figures, released jointly by the Ministers for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan, and Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty, cover the two years from July 2016 to June 2018.

Justice minister Charlie Flanagan said today that the figures showed how the service is delivering results, and the figures for those in arrears in now half of the 2013 peak.

Minister Flanagan said: “I am particularly pleased to see that Abhaile is delivering results, even for borrowers in the more challenging levels of arrears, who are those most at risk.

Worst-affected category

“Abhaile is, undoubtedly, making an important contribution to the drop in arrears for this worst-affected category, and is helping those who fell into arrears due to loss of earnings, illness or family separation.”

Abhaile is jointly coordinated and funded by the Department of Justice and Equality and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

MABS, the Insolvency Service of Ireland, the Legal Aid Board, and the Citizens Information Board jointly co-ordinate the service. It has been operating since July 2016.

Insolvency

A total of 64% of court review cases legally aided by Abhaile during the second year of operation were decided in the borrower’s favour – the court decided to impose the personal insolvency arrangement proposed by the borrower, which had been rejected by the creditors.

While Abhaile offers duty-solicitor and court-mentor services for those in repossession proceedings, the main focus is on solving the borrower’s substantive problem in a tailored manner.

Civil legal aid is still available in the normal way for anyone with a valid legal defence to repossession proceedings.

Legal aid

The service is also assisting mortgage arrears resolution by providing legal aid for court review cases, where a personal insolvency proposal to resolve the borrower’s debts has been refused by his or her creditor(s).

The court review removes the so-called ‘bank veto’, and allows the courts to approve and impose the borrower’s proposal, if satisfied that it is fair to all parties. 

Over the two-year period, a total of 809 borrowers were granted legal aid under Abhaile to seek a personal insolvency court review.

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