Cou­ple ap­peal rul­ing block­ing their chal­lenge to lender’s debt deal veto

Irish Independent - - NEWS - Shane Phe­lan Legal Af­fairs Edi­tor

A COU­PLE has lodged an ap­peal against a court de­ci­sion that they had no legal stand­ing to chal­lenge KBC Bank over its de­ci­sion to refuse them a deal on their debts.

The case, which will now be heard by the High Court, has im­pli­ca­tions for hun­dreds of oth­ers, with some ob­servers warn­ing the fu­ture of a key part of Ire­land’s in­sol­vency regime may hinge on the out­come.

The Cir­cuit Court ruled ear­lier this month that debtors’ per­sonal in­sol­vency prac­ti­tion­ers (PIPs), and not debtors them­selves, must seek court re­views in sit­u­a­tions where banks veto a pro­posed per­sonal in­sol­vency ar­range­ment (PIA).

Judges have the power to over­rule banks which veto PIAs un­der mea­sures in­tro­duced in 2015 to tackle mort­gage ar­rears and slow the tide of repossessions.

But fol­low­ing the de­ci­sion by Judge Su­san Ryan, the As­so­ci­a­tion of Per­sonal In­sol­vency Prac­ti­tion­ers (APIP) said it be­lieved PIPs would no longer lodge ap­peals for fear of be­ing lumped with the legal costs, which can be up to €20,000 per case. It said its mem­bers would also have no op­tion but to with­draw up to 450 court ap­peals against bank ve­toes al­ready in the sys­tem.

Both the In­sol­vency Ser­vice of Ire­land and the De­part­ment of Jus­tice have sought to dampen fears over the rul­ing.

How­ever, APIP says its mem­bers can’t take the risk on be­half of clients.

The north Co Dublin cou­ple at the cen­tre of the case lodged an ap­peal of Judge Ryan’s de­ci­sion on Thurs­day and the case has been listed be­fore the High Court next month.

The cou­ple, who are the par­ents of three young chil­dren, face los­ing their home if the deal, ap­proved by their PIP but re­jected by KBC, does not get court ap­proval.

Un­der the pro­posed PIA, the cou­ple’s debts of €739,000 would have been writ­ten down to €360,000.

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