The Minister for Justice has announced a free legal aid scheme to assist anyone who is facing repossession (or the threat of it) from their lender as a result of mortgage arrears on their family home.
More details about the scheme have now emerged and training has now been undertaken by us and the other lawyers who wish to participate in providing the various services which are to be made available.
Three main services are to be provided:
- A legally aided consultation scheme is to be set up. This will involve MABS assessing the person’s individual circumstances in the first instance and in helping them fill out the necessary financial statements and to refer them to a legally aided Personal Insolvency Practitioner, where appropriate. Where legal advice is needed, a voucher will be issued by MABS to the person to allow them to contact a solicitor on the panel to obtain free legal advice on their circumstances. We have been told by the Legal Aid Board that follow up consultations can be provided for if necessary.
- A ‘duty solicitor’ is to be present at each court sitting to assist those unrepresented/representing themselves. Again this service is to be paid for by Legal Aid.
- Finally, where a person enters into an insolvency arrangement with a personal insolvency arrangement but the Bank veto’s the arrangement, legal aid will now be provided to the person to allow them to appeal the veto by the Bank to the court. This will result in many more insolvency arrangements being put in place and will ultimately result in many more families remaining in their family homes with manageable repayments on their mortgages.
- it is hoped that the legal aid scheme will be up and running in the short term. MABS now have a dedicated mortgage arrears adviser who will assist any person facing repossession and arrange the appropriate free help from a Personal Insolvency Practitioner or Solicitor.
- Unfortunately, the current scheme does not appear to provide legal aid for the repossession action itself nor does it deal with bankruptcy applications which will undoubtedly be required but it is certainly a good starting point and the hope is that the scheme will be enlarged as it develops.
- We would advise anyone who has received a letter threatening repossession or who has had proceedings issued against them to make contact with their local MABS office to speak to the dedicated mortgage arrears adviser (DMABS) or to contact ourselves and we can make contact with MABS on their behalf.
You can read more about MABS services here : http://www.keepingyourhome.ie or contact Etain Boyce on 0749890190 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a free, confidential and empathetic discussion about your situation.