While the Law Reform Commission (LRC) of Ireland did not draft new legislation reforming the Bankruptcy Act 1988 it did include an appendix to its most recent and final report on personal insolvency, published in December 2010, outlining what it saw as essential amendments to the Bankruptcy Act 1988. Presumably, without these amendments, any new Personal Insolvency Act would be difficult to enact and enforce since there could be legal discrepancies between the Bankruptcy Act 1988 and the (already published) Draft Insolvency Bill 2010 which, if the latter were to be enacted into law, could presumably lead to legal challenges in the courts.
Here is a summary of the amendments as outlined by the LRC in Appendix C (arrangement of heads) of the Personal Debt Management and Debt Enforcement report:
- Minimum debt level of Euro 50,000 to bring creditor’s petition of bankruptcy.
- Removal of requirement of debtor’s available estate.
- Pre-Action Protocol
- Stay of proceedings to consider alternative means
- Conditions of automatic bankruptcy discharge
- Automatic discharge period reduced to three years
- Court may order payments for up to five years
- Objections to discharge by Official Assignee/Personal Insolvency Trustee
- Removal of requirement to pay expenses, fees etc before discharge
- Reduction in number of priority debts
- Restrictions and disqualifications
- Exempted assets to ensure reasonable living standard
- Licensing of Personal Insolvency Trustee acting in bankruptcy
While some of these proposed amendments appear to be self explanatory, a full explanation of each is available from the LRC’s report. The proposed amendments are listed and explained in Appendix C of the report and they are also explained and discussed in the body of the report itself.
In a footnote to Appendix C of that report the LRC intriguingly states:
‘The Commission has not included these provisions in the draft Personal Insolvency Bill in Appendix A (sic) as it understands that a new legislative framework to reform the Bankruptcy Act 1988 is currently (December 2010) under consideration’.
It would be fascinating to learn who was considering the ‘reform of the Bankruptcy Act 1988’ in December 2010 and from whom did the LRC get its ‘understanding’, particularly in light of the thorough and excellent work which the LRC has carried out to date in the field of personal insolvency.
Paddy Byrne 26/01/2011