Increase in bankruptcies prompts court advice move
A massive jump in the numbers of people seeking bankruptcy has prompted the Courts Service to join with financial information groups to bring expert advice straight into courtrooms to give people help with their decisions.
Statistics show that 432 bankruptcies were initiated through the courts by those in debt last year - a 568pc increase on 2013.
The increase came about largely because of a change in bankruptcy law that reduced the term from 12 to three years.
"This enormous increase in those in debt seeking bankruptcy themselves is a dramatic turn of events - one which indicates that people see bankruptcy as providing some protection, as may not have been the case in previous generations," Chief Justice and Chair of the Courts Service, Mrs Justice Susan Denham said.
At the launch of its annual report, Mrs Justice Denham said the Courts Service would join with the Money Advice and Budgeting Service, the Citizens Information Board and the Insolvency Service of Ireland to bring independent information and advice to courthouses across the country.
Starting this month as a pilot in six locations - and being rolled out nationally in September and October - the four services will ensure that every time the Circuit Court sits to hear possession matters that there will be space, information and personal debt advisers present to engage with people about their options.
While this will not be a legal advocacy service, each organisation will be reaching out to those who find themselves in court - offering an understanding as to what might happen - and to offer possible options.
"This information initiative may offer a welcome relief from the fear of the unknown, from the sense of isolation the person in debt must surely feel, as they present themselves, perhaps their first time ever, in court - likely the first time ever publicly acknowledging their financial circumstances," Mrs Justice Denham said.