Debt settlement arrangements (DSAs) are available under the new Personal Insolvency Act to debtors with unsecured creditors over €20,000.
Section 49 of the act provides that the debtor must apply in writing to a personal insolvency practitioner including details of his financial affairs. Following receipt of this information, the personal insolvency practitioner shall hold a meeting with the debtor. The personal insolvency practitioner will then advise the debtor of his/her options for addressing his/her financial difficulties. The debtor is required to complete a prescribed financial statement in accordance with Section 50 of the act. The personal insolvency practitioner shall then complete a statement that he/she is of the opinion that:
- The information contained in the debtor’s prescribed financial statement if completed and accurate;
- The debtor is eligible to make a proposal for a debt settlement arrangement for personal insolvency arrangement, as the case may be,
- There is no likelihood of the debt or becoming solvent within the period of five years commencing on the date on which the statement is made, and that
- It is appropriate for the debtor to apply for a DSA.
The Insolvency Service will, if satisfied that the application is in order, issue a certificate to that effect and furnish that certificate, together with a copy of the application and supporting documentation, to the appropriate court. The court will then consider the application and documentation and either issue a protective certificate or hold a hearing to gather further information or evidence.
A protective certificate shall be in force for a period of 70 days, with the possibility of an extension of a further 40 days. A debt settlement arrangement will then be put forward to creditors for agreement. Creditors representing not less than 65%in value of the debts must participate in a meeting and approve the DSA for it to move forward. If approved, the arrangement will be registered in the Insolvency Register. A DSA will last for 5 years, and the debtor will be discharged from the debts specified in the DSA once it expires