Legislation giving judges the power to refuse home repossession orders was withdrawn from the Dáil late last week for talks about including some of its provisions in the Government’s promised insolvency Bill.
Independent Wicklow TD Stephen Donnelly introduced the legislation on Friday in a bid to give judges discretion in dealing with applications from banks for repossession of family homes in mortgage default.
Under current laws the courts must enforce repossession at the end of the one-year moratorium.
Mr Donnelly’s legislation, the Family Home Protection (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill provides for courts to take account of other factors such as efforts by families to restructure their debt.
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter rejected the Bill, describing it as unconstitutional and unworkable in its present form. He said other factors were already “effectively taken into account” by judges. The Minister, however, praised the Independent TD’s “well-intentioned and laudable” efforts to offer elements of protection to homeowners.
Mr Shatter said he hoped to introduce the Personal Insolvency Bill by the end of April, which he described as “the most radical reform of our insolvency laws since the foundation of the State”, providing for a non-judicial system for the settlement of debt.
In an unusual move for a private member’s Bill, Mr Donnelly withdrew his legislation at the Minister’s request for talks about including elements of it in the Government’s forthcoming personal insolvency and bankruptcy legislation.