170. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 96 of 24 January 2018, if he will provide a copy of the minutes or report of the meeting between the Irish delegation and the Commission in Brussels in September 2017 and the detailed submission to the European Commission in November 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5234/18]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I wish to inform the Deputy that any documentation, including any minutes or report of the meeting with the EU Commission and the submission referred to in the question, are confidential between the Commission and Ireland and the subject of an ongoing process with the Commission and I am not, therefore, in a position to provide such documentation to the Deputy at this point. This matter is also the subject of ongoing court proceedings.
I can, however, inform the Deputy that we pointed out firstly to the EU Commission that there are no legislative or other impediments to the exercise of obligations under the Unfair Contracts Directive in the Irish Courts and that court procedures are available for a judge to determine whether there are unfair contract terms in play. We pointed out secondly that our courts are aware of the obligations as to unfair contract terms in the context of repossession proceedings and the Unfair Terms Directive has already been applied in a number of Irish court cases and judgments which are binding on the Circuit Court where the vast majority of home repossession cases are heard. We also informed the Commission as to the extent of Government policies and legislative measures which have been put in place and are working to help people in mortgage arrears to remain in their family homes. As the Deputy will know these actions have included personal insolvency legislation, appropriate adjustments to Courts legislation to link in with personal insolvency arrangements and the introduction of the Abhaile Scheme in 2016. Abhaile has been a huge success with over 10,000 advice and assistance services provided to distressed borrowers up to mid-January 2018, a very large portion of whom are in the one to two years plus mortgage arrears category. Finally it was pointed out to the Commission that an Irish consumer mortgagor who is a party to mortgage possession proceedings has the opportunity at several stages of the proceedings to ensure that the lender’s claim for possession is referred to a court to assess the unfairness of any of the contract terms.