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1499. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice the current number of cases under section 115A of the Personal Insolvency Act 2012 which have yet to reach a conclusion in the Circuit Court; the average length of time it takes for a case under section 115A to reach a conclusion in the Circuit Court; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20747/21]

Answer

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts, including the provision of accommodation for court sittings, is the responsibility of the Courts Service which is independent in its functions. However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made regarding insolvency cases in the Circuit Court.
The Courts Service advises that there are currently 490 cases under section 115A of the Personal Insolvency Act 2012, which have yet to reach a conclusion in the Circuit Court. All 490 cases have been listed for Court, as follows:
260 listed for court date in April (of which 77 have been heard);
212 listed for court date in May;
16 listed for court date in June; and
2 listed for court date in July.
I am further advised by the Courts Service that the average length of time it takes for a case under Section 115A to reach a conclusion in the Circuit Court depends on the volume of cases in the system at that time, if there is an objection to the application and the complexity of each individual case. The average length of time it takes for a case under section 115A to reach a conclusion in the Circuit Court is 440 days. The average time to completion is calculated from the date the application is filed in the court office to the conclusion of the application.
The Personal Insolvency (Amendment) (No. 1) Bill 2020 aims to addresses COVID-related obstacles identified by my Department, the ISI, the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS), and organisations representing Personal Insolvency Practitioners. The Bill removes the limitation in the section 115A court review process that requires insolvent borrowers with home mortgages to already be in arrears (or unsuccessfully restructured) before 1 January 2015. It also makes a range of procedural changes to ensure that personal insolvency processes work better for debtors affected by the pandemic and adjusts the asset ceiling (from €400 to €1,500) for an insolvent person applying for a Debt Relief Notice - the debt restructure designed for people with very little income or assets. The need for further legislative changes and other supports will be kept under review in the context of the Justice Sectoral Recovery Plan and emerging developments post Covid.