More debt deals, but fewer people declared bankrupt

THERE has been a rise in the number of people getting an official deal to cut their debts, but a fall in those taking the bankruptcy option.

A total of 347 people agreed deals with their lenders in the first three months of this year in situations where they are unable to pay the full amount.

This was up 16pc on the number of arrangements put in place in the first quarter of last year, figures from the Insolvency Service of Ireland show.

Most of the deals were personal insolvency arrangements (PIAs). These are court-approved restructurings of mortgage and other debts where there is a deal to repay a more manageable amount over a six-year period.

Last month a High Court judge has reserved judgment in a personal insolvency application by musician Frank McNamara and his barrister wife Theresa Lowe.

The couple are seeking court approval for an arrangement to assist them in dealing with debts of €3.7m.

The Insolvency Service said there was a fall in the numbers opting to be declared bankrupt, where control of a person’s finances is handed to a court-appointed official assignee.

Just 83 people were declared bankrupt in the January to March period. This compares with 120 people opting for bankruptcy in the first three months of last year, fall of 31pc.

Bankruptcy last for a year following a change introduced in 2016.

The total debt involved in bankruptcy adjudications in the first quarter was €91m, the Insolvency Service of Ireland said.

There was also a fall in the number of new applications for official debt deals received by the service, according to interim chief executive Chris Lehane.

A total of 854 new applications were received in the first quarter of this year, down 14pc on the same period last year.

A fall in the number of protective certificates issued was also recorded. A protective certificate is issued by the court and gives a personal insolvency practitioner 70 days to develop an arrangement.

Mr Lehane commented:  “The Insolvency Service of Ireland recently completed a targeted awareness campaign designed to increase awareness of insolvency solutions in regions where there is low take-up.”

The majority of those availing of an insolvency arrangement are in the private sector, with most people in the 35 to 44 age group.

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